* Says sure worth investing in Zimbabwe's diamond potential
* Project to map Angola's mining potential begins this year
CAPE TOWN Feb 7 Angola's Catoca, one of the
world's largest diamond producers, could invest in diamond
exploration and production in nearby Zimbabwe, Angola's mines
minister said on Thursday.
The Catoca mine, whose shareholders include Russian diamond
giant Alrosa and Angolan state diamond company Endiama, produces
the bulk of the country's diamonds.
Industry analysts estimate that in just over a decade of
activity, Catoca alone has produced almost a third of the total
number of gems mined in Angola in a century of mining.
Angola is keen to boost a traditionally strong diamond
sector where few companies are currently drilling, but is also
seeking to diversify both its own mining sector and the
portfolio of its companies.
"Catoca is a major company, with accumulated experience, and
it is capable of investing outside Angola," Mines Minister
Francisco Queiroz said on the sidelines of a mining conference.
"We analysed Zimbabwe's diamond potential with the
Zimbabwean authorities and we are sure this is a market it is
worth investing in... Catoca can invest in exploring and mining
Zimbabwe has struggled to attract investors to its mining
industry, despite mineral wealth that includes what could be
some of the world's richest diamond mines.
A bar on Zimbabwean diamond exports was lifted in 2011 and
confirmed in 2012 by the Kimberley Process initiative, set up to
stem the flow of conflict diamonds, despite repeated charges of
human rights abuses and smuggling at its diamond fields.
Angola's mining industry, dwarfed by booming oil, has long
focused on diamonds, but the country is seeking to attract
additional investment, not least with a major project to map the
its mining potential, which is due to begin this year.
Queiroz said the final product, however, was still up to
five years away. "It has to be trustworthy, so it has to be done
with care. This is a medium-term process - three, four and up to
The Democratic Republic of Congo and other African
neighbours were mapped and studied under colonial rule, but a
lack of investment from former colonial ruler Portugal and
Angola's focus on oil has meant a far more limited understanding
of its mining promise.
Queiroz said the country's new mining code offering lower
taxes, the potential for tax exemptions in exchange for social
efforts and no pre-established, free state stake was designed to
Queiroz said that for strategic commodities like diamonds,
gold and uranium, miners would have to partner with state
companies, but these could hold minor shares.
"There is no minimum stake (for the state)," Queiroz said.
"Sometimes, it could be a minority share which is also a 'golden
share'... it is not necessary to have a majority to have an
active say in a company.