Mining giant Rio Tinto has announced that it has decided to sell its 78% stake in the Murowa diamond mine and leave Zimbabwe.
The buyer is RZ Murowa Holdings Ltd., a division of RioZim Ltd., which already holds a 22% interest in Murowa Diamonds.
Rio also announced that it will sell its 50% stake in the Sengwa coal project to RioZim, which owns the rest. RioZim will now manage both mines.
Zimbabwe’s government has announced plans to nationalise all diamond mining, including Murowa.
In a media release, Rio Tinto said that it believes that the future of these assets “can be best managed by entities with existing interests in Zimbabwe.”
“Rio Tinto remains committed to the diamond industry and is focused on operating its two world-class underground mines whilst obtaining the approvals for its advanced diamond project in India,” said Rio Tinto Diamonds and Minerals Chief Executive Alan Davies.
The Murowa Diamond Mine is an open pit mining operation located near Zvishavane in south-central Zimbabwe.
Production at the site began in 2004. The current capability of the mine is around 400,000 carats per annum of large, predominantly white, gem-quality diamonds.
The company has produced more than one million carats since 2004. The diamonds are sold on the international markets, with 10% of Murowa Diamonds’ production reserved for the local Zimbabwe cutting and polishing industry.