Part 2: KPCSC wants Russia to help end impasse on new definition of conflict diamonds

In the first installment of this two-part exclusive interview with Shamiso Mtisi, the coordinator of the Kimberley Process Civil Society Coalition (KPCSC), we focused on illegal diamond mining in the continent and where the contraband ends up...


Part 1: KPCSC gives insight into illegal diamond mining, trading in Africa

Although the diamond watchdog Kimberley Process (KP) prides itself for significantly reducing the flow of conflict goods since its establishment in 2003, the Kimberley Process Civil Society Coalition (KPCSC) alleged that illegal diamond...

18 october 2021

The jewelry industry in Russia needs to be upgraded in a serious way

Dina Nasyrova is a vice-president of the International Jewelry Exhibition-Congress J-1 recently hosted by the Atrium of Gostiny Dvor in Moscow. As a partner and the Muse of the famous jeweler Ilgiz Fazulzyanov, she actively participated in the preparation...

11 october 2021

Smiling Rocks, a philanthropic business model, inspires companies to work for betterment of the world

Zulu Ghevriya, the CEO and Co-Founder of Smiling Rocks, Founder of Vedantti Jewellery and Managing Director of Prism Group has been in the diamond and jewellery industry for over 20 years. Zulu started his business, Prism Group, as a natural diamond...

04 october 2021

Work hard and you will find success

Eduard Utkin, Director General of the “Jewellers’ Guild of Russia” Association, expert of the RF Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s Committee on Precious Metals and Precious Stones, told R&P about implementing the SIIS PMPS (State Integrated Information...

27 september 2021

Vast Resources waiting for Godot in Chiadzwa?

08 february 2021

AIM-listed Vast Resources said in September 2019 that it had concluded a joint venture with Chiadzwa Mining Resources, a company designated to represent Chiadzwa Community interests in the Chiadzwa Community Diamond Concession.

The joint venture resulted in the establishment of Katanga Mining, which will in turn partner with the Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company (ZCDC) to mine diamonds in Marange.

Vast also revised an agreement with Botswana Diamonds, which will see the latter acquire a 2.5% interest in the cash flows generated from Vast's share in the Chiadzwa concession in exchange for providing "know-how for all aspects of exploration, mining, processing and marketing".

In March 2020, Vast Resources said it was expecting to conclude the joint venture agreement with ZCDC for the Chiadzwa community diamond project, before the end of that month.

The company said at the time that it had received official communication from the mines ministry that all internal processes leading to the conclusion of the joint venture were expected to be finalised end of March 2020.

Nothing happened at the end of March 2020 and the situation was further compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Zimbabwe government declared a 21-day lockdown in response to the pandemic, which commenced on 30 March 2020.

It later said that the Chiadzwa deal had been put on halt as a result of the lockdown to curb the spreading of the coronavirus.

"As a result of this the finalisation process was not completed in March, but finalisation remains expected to complete shortly," Vast said at the time.

When nothing happened "shortly" as Vast told its shareholders, it later said that it remains confident that despite the COVID-19 lockdown and other delays that had arisen due to matters unrelated to the relationship between the company and Harare, the project will be continued to the benefit of all stakeholders.

At this point, it resisted the temptation of stating timelines as to when the deal would be sealed.

The year 2020 came to an end with no deal in sight.

ZCDC rather snatched Vast's man responsible for diamonds, Mark Mabhudhu, to become its chief executive.

"Whilst we are of course sad to see Mark (Mabhudhu) leave Vast Resources PLC, we are extremely excited that we will be able to continue to work with him in his new role within the diamond mining sector in Zimbabwe," said Vast chief executive Andrew Prelea in September 2020.

"We are confident that with Mark in his new role, the diamond mining sector in Zimbabwe will be set for a new high."

Vast said Mabhundu's new position will not pose any impediment to the finalisation of a joint venture agreement with the ZCDC.

It would, however, be naïve for the AIM-listed company to think that its former diamond division head now heading ZCDC then the joint venture would be concluded in no time.

The government bureaucracy in Zimbabwe slows the conclusion of such deals and COVID-19 was a perfect scapegoat for last year's delay.

We have seen several government programmes in Zimbabwe going ahead despite the further spreading of the virus.

So the pandemic can no longer be attributed as the cause of the delay.

Even the ZCDC and ALROSA joint venture took some time before it was concluded, so the Vast deal is not an exception in Zimbabwe.

That said, it should be stated that Vast has so far shown patience exhibited by fictional characters, Vladimir (Didi) and Estragon (Gogo) in Samuel Beckett's famous play, Waiting for Godot.

Unlike the two characters who continued waiting for Godot who never arrived, one hopes that Vast will be rewarded for its patience.

The project is unique as it for the first time directly benefit the community as shareholders in a diamond company.

The Marange community previously complained that the diamond companies that were initially awarded licences after the 2006 rash excluded them from sharing the proverbial cake.

Thousands were driven away from their ancestral land, while a few benefitted from houses built by some of the diamond companies.

I do not doubt that the deal will come to fruition, but it will not be concluded "shortly" as the AIM-listed company expected.

Government bureaucracy is real and with that in mind, all the best waiting for Godot, Vast!

Mathew Nyaungwa, Editor in Chief of the African Bureau, Rough&Polished