Illegal artisanal miners have reportedly invaded Zimbabwe’s controversial Marange diamond fields, according to The Africa Report.
The influx of these miners follows a few days after the Zimbabwean government’s decision to order mining companies to leave the area. Local newspapers have alleged that thousands of liters of fuel, mining equipment worth millions of dollars and vital documents have all been stolen.
According to Zimbabwe’s official newspaper The Herald, a ministerial team has been dispatched to Marange to assess the situation, following reports of chaos in the area.
The banned mining companies have criticized the government’s handling of the situation, in particular claiming that the presence of police and ministry officials was inadequate protection for the mines.
“Now there is no value for what we built over six years and now it’s being destroyed in a day,” said one company official.” They should have at least allowed us to plan, take care of our personnel first, secure the equipment and property and then allow proper hand-over-take over.”
The mining companies began their operations in 2008 after a bloody military clampdown to remove illegal miners from the recently discovered diamond fields.
The Zimbabwean government established the Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company, attempting to merge the mines into one entity, having grown frustrated that diamond revenues were not filtering back into the treasury.