Zimbabwe is planning an ambitious international diamond bourse expected to attract traders from all over the world, as the southern African nation hopes to harness the mineral’s revenue in an effort to shore up its faltering economy.
Were the plan to succeed, officials say it would turn the country’s capital “Harare into a diamond city”. Once established, Zimbabwe hopes the bourse will compete with major centres like Antwerp, New York, Mumbai in India and Dubai in the United Arab Emirates.
Once we have that bourse, we will be able to attract big players in the diamond industry
The Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe (MMCZ) has since invited consultants to spearhead the establishment of the bourse. MMCZ official, Masimba Chandavengerwa says the bourse will attract other diamond producers across the world.
“Once we have that bourse, we will be able to attract big players in the diamond industry who buy in the tune of at least $10 million each,” he was quoted saying by the State run Herald.
Chandavengerwa says international diamond buyers have shown keen in the bourse. “Because of the volume of material (diamonds) we anticipate here, we will be able to attract other diamond players such as South Africa, Botswana, Angola, Democratic Republic of Congo and Namibia.”
However, in recent months diamond mining firms operating in Zimbabwe’s Marange deposit have ceased operations. It has become economically unviable for them to dig any deeper for the precious stones. Marange has run out of alluvial diamond deposits, dashing Zimbabwe’s chances of reviving its moribund economy.
Late last year the country’s Mines Minister, Walter Chidakwa said the existing miners had neither the expertise nor the resources to search for new deposits underground the country’s current major diamond source.
Some experts believe that Marange is the largest diamond discovery in generations, but the find has been dogged by allegations of human rights abuses and corruption going right to the heart of Robert Mugabe’s government.
The Marange fields, 400km east of Harare, have been a constant focus of controversy since 20,000 small-scale miners invaded the area in 2008, and were violently removed later by soldiers and police.
Despite claims Zimbabwe could account for as much as 25% diamond deposits, the country’s production fell far below Russia’s 38,3 million carats valued at $3,7 billion in 2014.
Angola and Australia produced 8,7 and 9,2 million carats, respectively, while Botswana and South Africa registered 24,7 and 7,4 million carats, respectively.
The Democratic Republic of Congo realised 15,6 million carats, while Canada produced 12 million carats in the period under review, according to the KPCs report.
The value of Zimbabwe’s diamonds on the international market tumbled by as much as 56% between 2013 and 2014 to $238,6 million as the country’s precious stones seem to be losing their lustre.
Zimbabwe has in the past come up with some fanciful plans to increase diamond revenue, including a cutting and polishing centre, but this has not helped increase incomes.
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