HARARE – Russian mining giant, Alrosa said on Tuesday it is to invest an initial US$12 million for exploration in Zimbabwe after the world’s largest diamond firm by volume inked a joint venture transaction with the State controlled Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Mining Company.

The deal, which follows engagements between President Emmerson Mnangagwa and his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin in January, will see Alrosa taking up a 70 percent controlling stake in new greenfield projects in Zimbabwe’s Chimanimani diamond fields, while ZCDC will control the 30 percent.

But under a diamond policy announced last December, Zimbabwe’s government said it wanted to have 46 percent shareholding in all diamond mining projects, with local investors owning five percent.

It means the Russians may have asked for serious concessions to achieve controlling stakes in one of the world’s richest biggest diamond claims.

“Our specialists have been working in Zimbabwe for more than three months now, and the national authorities have been of great support to them. We have chosen various projects for the joint venture, and part of them is to be launched this autumn. Of the existing fields for development, we are preliminary considering the areas located in the Chimanimani region,” said Vladimir Marchenko, Alrosa’s deputy chief executive officer.

Alrosa CEO, Sergey Ivanov, said Zimbabwe would benefit from well-developed mining system that have been deployed in Russia by the company.

“We do not only produce diamonds, but we bring value and mechanisms of sorting, marketing of diamonds from different areas of the Russian federation, and we are absolutely sure that we will be able to bring the same value to Zimbabwean diamonds,” Ivanov said.

Mnangagwa said after coming up with a diamond policy that is attractive to investors, his country was beginning to benefit from an improved investment climate.

“This is a further demonstration of my government’s commitment to welcome and facilitate investment from across the world which produces mutual benefits, jobs, and ultimately results in the improved quality of life for our people,” Mnangagwa said at the signing ceremony.

“The company is one of the leading diamond companies in the world, accounting for about 30 perce4nt of global diamond production by volume and reputed for cutting edge technology for all processes along the diamond value chain,” he noted.