Catoca to explore for diamonds in Zimbabwe in 2014

LUANDA — Angola’s Catoca, one of the world’s largest diamond producers, expects to start exploring two fields in Zimbabwe next year following a mining agreement signed between the two countries on Monday, State news agency Angop reported.

Angola is the world’s fourth-largest diamond producer by value and sixth by volume, but the government is keen to boost exploration activity both at home and overseas.

“Angola has a mining tradition that is now undergoing great growth and some experience in external investments which we want to extend to Zimbabwe,” Angop cited Geology and Mines minister Francisco Queiroz as saying.

He said there are already advanced talks for Angolan companies to operate in Zimbabwe, highlighting Catoca, which expects to start exploration activities in two fields in 2014.

Angola’s diamond industry, which began 100 years ago under Portuguese colonial rule, is dominated by the Catoca Mine, the world’s fourth-largest.

Russia’s Alrosa and Angola’s State-owned Endiama each own 32,8% of the mine, which is responsible for about three-quarters of the diamonds extracted in Angola.

Zimbabwe has struggled to attract investors to its mining industry, despite mineral wealth that includes what could be some of the world’s richest diamond mines.

The European Union last month agreed to lift sanctions on the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation, despite concerns over alleged fraud in a July election that kept President Robert Mugabe in power.

The decision which will allow the firm to sell its diamonds in Europe, potentially raising its revenues.

Angola’s mining industry is dwarfed by an oil sector, which is the biggest in Africa after Nigeria’s.

Mining has long focused on diamonds, but the country is seeking to explore other minerals and is conducting a major project to map its mining potential.

Queiroz said the agreement signed last Thursday could pave the way for Angola to explore other minerals besides diamonds in Zimbabwe.

— Reuters

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