Visiting the Diamond Land: Educational Trip to Zimbabwe

Home to various kinds of wildlife and adventure, Zimbabwe is a land of bursting culture in Africa. It is home to many flora and fauna and the land is richly abundant in mines that hold special gems, diamonds, and stones admired globally.

The team and the students of J K Diamonds Institute of Gems & Jewelry set their eyes on this marvelous land and flew to Zimbabwe, via Rwanda Airlines. The adventure that awaited us was nothing like we expected it to be; it was even better!

MUROWA MINES – More Than Diamonds

Upon reaching Harare Airport, Zimbabwe, we were immediately ushered into shuttle buses that would take us on a 6-hour journey to Murowa Mines. The hours flew by in fun games, small naps and a lot of singing.

When we reached the destination, we were greeted by Mr. Masimba Nyamhunga, the General Manager of Murowa Diamond Mines. He guided us into the facility, where we went through a security check, followed by breakfast and a presentation on diamond mining at the facility. The presentation enlightened the team and the students about how, in theory, diamond mining works and the various processes involved before a finished product is ready.

The actual experience commenced when it was time to see these processes in practice. To our surprise, the team at Murowa presented to us with our very own, customized Personal Protection Equipment (PPE), where each member had their name written on their gear, before boarding the bus to the mining area. The ten minutes journey from the facility to the mining site was filled with enthusiasm and excitement from the team and the students. After all, we were one of the few lucky people getting the chance to personally experience and explore the entire mining operation of Kimberley Pit 1 and 2 of Murowa Mines!

At the site, we practically saw the process of filtration of the Kimberley rocks from the other materials that also get picked up in the process. After a filling lunch, we then proceeded to the Murowa processing and recovery plants, where the students got the chance to observe the extensive five steps involved in processing and recovering the diamond ores.

The first step involved crushing the Kimberley rocks in three stages in order to separate the diamonds from the Kimberley rocks. The second step saw how the -13mm ores are passed through water in order to separate them from the other, denser materials collected in the process. In the third step, we visited the X-ray process where the machine separates the diamonds using the photodetector technology, which triggers a jet of air to deflect the diamond into a collector box. The fourth step involved a grease table, onto which the diamonds would stick, thus separating from the ore. In the last step, a final separation is done by eye in the sorting room where the industrial quality diamonds are separated from the gem quality diamonds.

We also got the chance to visit the community center where the people who initially owned the mining land were resettled. The team and the students were fascinated to see the organization of the establishment, which had a well-structured housing, clinic, school, water and food system in place. The population of the establishment was close to a thousand, with almost 46% of the 840 employed at Murowa were from the local communities. A business center was also in place to teach the local people about valuable working skills and business. Even farming was given importance in the area, where 6 commercial farms were used to help in teaching farming, livestock enhancement, crop production and more.

Our educational adventure ventured further deep into our next trip, which was at the Diamond Sorting House.

DIAMOND SORTING HOUSE

The Diamond Sorting House is a highly restricted area where every corner is mounted with a camera, which made visiting the place even more special for the team and the students as this was not a common opportunity. After clearing various legalities and permissions, we were given a brief induction of the guidelines that need to be followed by Ms. Agnes and Mr. Tafadzwa Gova, the finance and commercial manager of Murowa Diamond Mines.

The sorting house is maintained by Ms. Mollyn, who gave the students an in-depth understanding of how diamonds are sorted as per their shape, size, clarity, color and more. Once this process was done, she then explained further how the roughs are exported to Antwerp for the traders. The students got a practical experience of preliminary sorting of size/sieves, shapes and also grading with detailed parameters. They were especially fascinated to see the big sized, perfect Octahedron, Mackles, Dodecahedron and other such diamonds at such a personal level.

After such an exciting hands-on experience, the students then got to sit down with Mr. Manit Shah, the Executive Director at Murowa Diamond Mines, and Mr. Tafadzwa Gova, to listen to their years of experience with diamonds and especially working with Murowa. It was refreshing to hear how such a large corporate power recognizes Zimbabwe diamonds as a national treasure, thus finding it important to not only safeguard the precious gems, but to also safeguard the local people and the environment from exploitation. The following Q&A session was also very enlightening for the students, where they received advice on how they can start their business with diamonds, the legalities of trading in Zimbabwe gem auctions, how they can become select diamantaires of Rio Tinto, the role of MMCZ in deciding the value of rough diamonds and more.

As an encouragement, Mr. Manit Shah and his team handed out certificates to each student of the institute for visiting and learning from the diamond and gold mines. The students and the team of J K Diamonds Institute showed their gratitude to the team by presenting a trophy to Mr. Manit Shah for being such a great mentor to the students.

With so many questions bubbling in the minds of our students, the next place we visited was the answer to all their questions..

MINERALS MARKETING CORPORATION OF ZIMBABWE (MMCZ)

The Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe (MMCZ) is a government-owned facility under the Ministry of Mines & Mining Development. It’s an exclusive agent for marketing and selling of diamonds and gemstones.
Dr. Simangaliso Makoni, the Marketing Head at MMCZ, conducted an informative talk with the students and the team of J K Diamonds Institute. She elaborated on the role, functions and duties of MMCZ, as well as the various policies put in place for effective buying to locals and international buyers. The department is the main marketing organization which sets and negotiates prices and handles all export procedures. She provided helpful tips to our students for exporting gems, and also spoke about tender facilities that several Indians participate in, especially for rough diamonds. The questions posed by the students were impressive and were enthusiastically met by Dr. Simangaliso Makoni.
With so much information on diamonds, it was time for a little change..

GOLD MINES

The next day’s journey of five hours took us to the Golden Land called CAM Gold Mines, Kadoma. Here, we received a humble welcoming by Mr. Stephen Charumbira, the Mining Manager of the site. He provided us with a handy map of the area and explained to us the guidelines and procedures to be followed at the visit.

The students were thrilled to learn how indicator metals like copper, lead, zinc and more are extracted from mines and later processed. They received practical knowledge on how gold is separated from its ore, processed and then finally, sold to the federal Bank of Zimbabwe.

The knowledge garnered by the team and the students of the Institute by the various facilities is truly irreplaceable. The gem of experiences and memories that Zimbabwe provided to the members is one that won’t be forgotten any time soon.