Russia’s Alrosa returns after two years to continue diamond exploration in Zimbabwe

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More than two years after it shelved plans to expand into Zimbabwe, Russian diamond giant Alrosa said it has set up a subsidiary in the country to begin mining operations.

Alrosa, which is the world’s largest diamond producer by output, started conducting geological exploration in Zimbabwe in 2013. The firm however dropped the licenses it acquired in 2016 as a result of the reform of the country’s diamond industry.

Announcing the launch of Alrosa’s new operations as Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa arrived in Moscow for an official visit, the Chief Executive of Alrosa, Sergey Ivanov said “today we see opportunities for a new stage of our partnership”.

Mnangagwa told reporters when visiting one of Alrosa’s operations in Moscow that Zimbabwe has opened “a small window” for foreign companies to participate in its diamond industry to maximize exploration. Alrosa said it would develop new mining operations in the country with the support of the Zimbabwean government.

In December 2018, state-controlled Alrosa said it established a subsidiary in Zimbabwe’s capital of Harare. The company said its geologists and mining engineers will arrive in the country to start operations in February 2019.

Russia has been raising its profile across Africa in recent years, signing military cooperation deals, ramping up trade and looking at joint platinum projects in Zimbabwe. Alrosa’s main production assets are based in Russia, but the company also has operations in Angola.

Zimbabwe has held a series of conferences in Africa as well as in London since the overturning of long-term leader Robert Mugabe in late 2017, raising expectations the mineral-rich southern African country would become more investor-friendly.

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