Listed miner RioZim this week received exploration technology worth millions as it moves to secure its future in both the diamond and gold subsectors.
The group expects to resume exploration work for diamonds on its 3 000 hectares in Chivi, and existing gold resources by end of April.
The cutting edge technology will be used both for the gold and diamond business, CEO Bheki Nkomo told the Business Weekly in an interview.
Between $20 and $25 million will be spent on the diamond exploration initiative at its Chivi claims, Nkomo said.
The amount covers equipment and actual works on sites.
He could however not be drawn to give the budgets for gold exploration or breakdown the diamond exploration budget. The group is doing work on its existing gold resources to upgrade inferred resources into proven resources for planning purposes. Exploration, Nkomo said, is the future of mining.
“We had done some bit of work before so we are resuming in April. Most people are talking about the diamond one, but we will also be doing exploration in our gold business like I said recently,”Nkomo said.
“The budget for the gold project might be a bit lower because we are just upgrading existing resources. We are using the same kind of equipment and it will be good for us,” the RioZim CEO added.
Nkomo said exploration could take time given the nature of the project.
He however said RioZim is hoping to get some incentives from government to make exploration projects more sustainable.
Although he could not be drawn to shed light on the forms of incentives the company wished to get, Nkomo has previously raised concern over ground rental fees that are charged to miners.
The RioZim executive said ground rentals currently being charged by Government make exploration uncompetitive and threatens the viability of mining.
RioZim has also indicated that it required more land for exploration.
The company, Nkomo recently said at a results briefing, is in negotiations with legislators and Government officials in the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development as well as the Ministry of Lands and Rural Resettlement for allocation of additional land and a review of ground rentals in support of the Chivi project.
Nkomo said RiZim required more land to increase chances of finding the resource given that seven years of exploration at its 33 000ha Murowa Diamond Mine, for instance, found three kimberlitic pipes.
He said discussions with five potential investors jostling to partner RioZim at its Sengwa thermal power plant are still ongoing with results soon expected to be shared.
The Sengwa project requires investment of $1,2 billion. A binding agreement is expected to be signed by end of 2018 and works commence in 2019. The implementation period is expected to be between two and three years.
In its latest annual results, RioZim posted an after tax profit of $8,1 million up from $2,5 million the prior year after revenue grew 36 percent to $88,9million on the back of an improved gold prices.