Zimbabwe: Marange diamond saga gets messier

marange diamond mine

GECKO Namibia (Pvt) Ltd’s equipment is entangled in Zimbabwe’s messy diamonds mining consolidation process, while the company has been unpaid since production in diamond mines stopped.

Gecko joins several other companies and suppliers who have been negatively affected by the process.

Among suppliers affected is Total Zimbabwe, which is owed over US$1 million by Anjin and DTZ-OZGEO Pvt Ltd, a joint venture between Econendra of Russia and Development Trust of Zimbabwe.

Gecko, which is owed R200 million (US$13,3 million) by Mbada Diamonds, is also unhappy that it has no access to its equipment which is in the Chiadzwa diamond fields in Marange recently sealed off by government. The company will not be paid for the time the equipment is grounded in Chiadzwa without production.

The Namibian mining company was subcontracted by Mbada Diamonds to supply mining equipment to aid the Zimbabwean company to exploit diamonds in Chiadzwa. Mbada has been mining in Marange since 2009.

Gecko provides several services, among them exploration drilling, chemical analyses, R&D metallurgical test work, civil engineering and construction, as well as contract mining. The non-payment of the money has forced Gecko Namibia to downsize its operations in Namibia and South Africa, which led to retrenchments. According to one of the company’s senior managers, who spoke on condition of anonymity, Gecko Nambia has done everything it could to recover the money but to no avail. The official said Mbada executives have been giving them “excuse after excuse, although the Zimbabwean company says it cannot pay due to the forced stoppage in mining”.

“Unfortunately we have not received anything yet from Mbada Diamonds. It is quite a substantial amount. We don’t really know how we are going to get that money considering that mining companies were evicted from the diamond mines. Now we don’t have access to our equipment which is now stuck there (Chiadzwa), some of which has been seriously neglected,” said the official.

“We are not sure whether we will ever get the money. When Mbada diamonds was still up and running we made several proposals of repayment, but they were not fruitful. We even suggested to be given a portion where we could mine and the proceeds would cover the debt they owed. However, it was not taken up. We are just disappointed that this deal affected our cash-flow and resulted in quite a number of workers being retrenched.”

Contacted for comment on Wednesday, Genet South Africa Group of Companies (a sister South African company to Gecko Namibia) chief executive officer, Mike Gibson, said the company was considering a number of options to recover the money. He ruled out legal action.

Gibson said: “We are considering our options, which I am not at liberty to disclose. There is a lot of sensitivity around this situation. Until the situation has normalised then we can comment. We are not taking legal action as yet.”

Total Zimbabwe is in the same predicament as it is owed US$1 022 831,03 by Anjin and DTZ-OZGEO (Pvt) Ltd for the unpaid supply of fuel.

Total Zimbabwe Managing Director Christopher Okonmah on March 15 wrote to Mines minister Walter Chidhakwa asking him to help his company recover the debts from DTZ-OZGEO and Anjin.

“We seek to bring to your attention that two mining companies, namely Anjin and DTZ-OZGEO Investments, owe Total Zimbabwe (Pvt) Ltd substantial amounts of money for fuel supplied,” Okonmah said. “They have advised us that their licences could not be renewed and they have stopped operations. The two mines mentioned above owe Total Zimbabwe (Pvt) Ltd a combined total of US$1 022 831,03. Please find attached their account statements. Your assistance in facilitating payment of these overdue debts would be most appreciated.”
Source: Zimbabwe Independent