By Michelle Graff
This picture from Rio Tinto shows the crushing and screening plant at the Murowa Diamond Mine in Zimbabwe. Rio Tinto is exiting the nation, selling its interest in a both a diamond mine and a coal mine there.
London--Rio Tinto announced that it is selling its 78 percent stake in the Murowa Diamond Mine in Zimbabwe to local entity RZ Murowa Holdings Ltd.

RioZim Limited, which already owns the remaining 22 percent of Murowa, will assume overall management of the company, as well as Rio Tinto’s 50 percent stake in Sengwa, a coal mining operation in Zimbabwe.

While certain companies and individuals, including government officials, in the Zimbabwe diamond industry remain under sanction in the U.S.,  the new owner of Murowa is a global equity fund that is not subject to Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) sanctions.

Back in January, news reports surfaced citing a letter Rio Tinto had sent to employees in Zimbabwe, warning them that a sale likely was imminent. The mining company stated in the letter that the country’s taxes, which are used to pay government workers, are too high and were “weighing down” the business.

In announcing the sale last week, however, Rio Tinto said only that “the future of these assets can be best managed by entities with existing interests in Zimbabwe.”  

Rio Tinto Diamonds and Minerals Chief Executive Alan Davies said that Rio Tinto “remains committed” to the diamond industry, and will focus on its two underground mines, the Argyle in Western Australia and Diavik in Canada, and its Bunder exploration project in India.

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