By Michelle Graff
Harare, Zimbabwe—Alrosa is going to look for diamonds in Zimbabwe, again.

During a visit to Moscow earlier this month designed to shore up foreign investment, Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa announced Alrosa’s intention to begin mining diamonds and other minerals in the country.

Mnangagwa has governed Zimbabwe since the 2017 ousting of longtime leader Robert Mugabe, and officially became president after winning a disputed election in August 2018.

The two countries began negotiating in 2018 and established the joint venture Alrosa (Zimbabwe) Ltd. on Dec. 6 in Zimbabwe’s capital, Harare.  

When asked where in Zimbabwe it would be mining, Alrosa Vice President Vladimir Marchenko did not specify, saying only that the company will first concentrate on finding new kimberlite deposits.

He said Zimbabwe’s diamond potential “still remains largely untapped, with a lack of significant investments in geological surveying and exploration.”

“We are also open to sharing with the government of Zimbabwe our best practices in setting up responsible supply chains and comprehensive systems of control of the flow of diamonds that we have developed over the years. The plan will be implemented in cooperation with Zimbabwean partners,” he said.

Currently, state-owned miner Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company is mining for diamonds in the Marange region—the region that was ground zero for the human rights crisis that led the Kimberley Process to ban Zimbabwe from exporting rough diamonds for a time— and RioZim Ltd. is mining in Murowa. (Rio Tinto used to own and operate the diamond mine there but sold its stake and left in 2015.)

Alrosa, which conducted diamond exploration in Zimbabwe in 2013 but pulled out a few years later, said its geologists and mining engineers will arrive in Zimbabwe by mid-February.

Alrosa’s announcement that it is entering Zimbabwe comes at a time of political and economic turmoil in the south African nation.

Citizens have been taking to the streets, burning tires and blocking roads in response to the recent government-implemented hike in the price of fuel that is symptomatic of larger economic problems.

In response, government security forces have launched their biggest crackdown on unrest in years, killing 12 and injuring hundreds more, The Washington Post reported Monday.

Zimbabwe President Mnangagwa tweeted Sunday that he would be cutting his overseas trip short to return to Zimbabwe “in light of the economic situation” there.   

In subsequent tweets, he denounced protestors for being destructive and violent but also criticized the nation’s security forces, tweeting Tuesday that, “Chaos and insubordination will not be tolerated. Misconduct will be investigated. If required, heads will roll.” 

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