Harare, Zimbabwe — MININGREVIEW.COM — 29 October 2010 – Global miner Rio Tinto’s Zimbabwe unit expects a rise in diamond production this year from the 124 000 carats produced in 2009, but adds that output in 2011 will be flat.
The Murowa unit is 78% owned by Rio Tinto, while RioZim Limited “’ a wholly Zimbabwean-owned unit that spun off from Rio Tinto in 2004 “’ controls the remainder.
“There will be an increase over last year following a small plant upgrade to handle harder ore,” Murowa managing director Neils Kristensen said in an emailed response to questions from Reuters. He did not give details on how much the company expects output to rise.
Output at the mine was up at 85 939 carats during the first six months of this year, compared with 67 000 carats in the same period in 2009. Kristensen said there would be no significant changes in output in 2011.
Murowa “’ which has a design capacity of 300 000 carats “’ suffered a US$5 million (R34 million) loss during the first half of this year due to lower gem grades and a ban on diamond sales by the government.
Zimbabwe had banned all diamond exports until stones from the government’s controversial Marange fields, where it now operates three joint venture mines, were certified by industry regulators.
Kristensen said Murowa resumed diamond exports at the end of August, after the government had sold its first batch of certified Marange diamonds.
He added that a feasibility study to increase output to 1.8 million carats was still underway.