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Zimbabwe Mines Minister Demands 50% Gov't Stake in Marange Mining Venture

Mines Minister Obert Mpofu said Tuesday that the government will demand a 50% stake in any partnership with a private-sector company for development of the Marange diamond field now a focus of concern over human rights violations and alleged illegal mining.

Observers said the 50-50 split is not likely to be attractive to potential investors who would be obliged to put up most of the capital to exploit the alluvial diamond deposits in the country's eastern Manicaland province near the border with Mozambique.

Harare is under pressure from the Kimberly Process Certification Scheme and the World Diamond Council. The latter issued a statement last week saying it would urge Zimbabwean diamonds to be barred from the international marketplace if the government does not take action on the concerns expressed by a Kimberly Process team that visited the area.

The team urged the demilitarization of the Marange field among other recommendations.

With a major mining conference slated for later this month in Harare, Mpofu told reporter Sandra Nyaira of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that the government’s demand for a 50% stake in any joint venture would apply only to the recently discovered Marange field.

Economist-consultant Luxon Zembe said Mpofu’s demand, initially reported in the state-run Herald newspaper, was likely to deter potential private-sector partners.

More reports from VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...