ZIMBABWE expects to increase diamond production to 11 million carats by 2023 from 3.2 million carats last year, said Reuters citing the country’s mines minister.
The target would be driven by four companies, including Alrosa and Chinese-owned Anjin, the minister, said Winston Chitando.
Zimbabwe became involved in a spat with US authorities earlier this month over the provenance of diamonds mined in the country.
It accused the US of ignorance after the US Customs and Border Protection announced it had blocked rough diamond imports from the Marange fields because they were produced with forced labour.
“It’s unfortunate that the US authorities have been misinformed or misled to believe that Zimbabwe is mining diamonds through forced labor,” Bloomberg quoted government spokesman, Nick Mangwana, as saying in a text message.
“As a government, we have a very strong revulsion towards any form of slavery or servitude. To even suggest that Zimbabwe has some form of corporate forced labor is either mischievous or simply ignorant,” he said.
The business activities at Marange diamond fields have long been a source of dispute in Zimbabwe. In 2018, Zimbabwe’s mines minister, Winston Chitando, said an inquiry was necessary to explore allegations that diamonds worth $15bn had been stolen from the country’s Marange fields.
The Marange diamond fields are about 90km south of Mutare West in the eastern part of Zimbabwe. Estimates vary, but it is thought the area has yielded some 16 million carats of diamonds. In 2016, former president, the late Robert Mugabe attempted to nationalise the diamond fields.