The world’s largest diamond producer by output, Russia’s Alrosa, is set to begin mining operations in Zimbabwe, more than two years after it dropped plans to expand into the southern African country, RIA news agency reports citing a company statement.
A reform of the country’s diamond industry led Alrosa to drop the licenses it held in Zimbabwe in 2016 despite conducting geological exploration in the country three years earlier.
“Today we see opportunities for a new stage of our partnership,” Alrosa chief executive Sergey Ivanov said in a statement, announcing the launch of the company’s new operations as Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa arrived in Moscow for an official visit.
Zimbabwe has opened “a small window” for foreign companies to participate in its diamond industry to maximize exploration, Mnangagwa told reporters when visiting one of Alrosa’s operations in Moscow on Monday without giving further details.
State-controlled Alrosa said it would develop new mining operations in the country with the support of the Zimbabwean government.
Alrosa established a subsidiary in Zimbabwe’s capital of Harare in December, and its geologists and mining engineers will arrive in the country to start operations in February, it said. The company did not provide any further detail about future projects in the country.
Alrosa’s main production assets are based in Russia, but the company also has operations in Angola. Russia has been raising its profile across Africa in recent years, signing military cooperation deals, ramping up trade and looking at joint platinum projects in Zimbabwe.