Zim to auction $37m diamonds

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HARARE – Zimbabwe plans to sell at least half a million diamond carats worth approximately $37 million in Antwerp this week.

Francis Gudyanga, the Mines ministry’s permanent secretary, yesterday said preparations were at an advanced stage for the country’s officials to depart for Belgium —the centre of global diamond trade.

He said Zimbabwe was set to realise more from its diamonds following the lifting of trade restrictions on the country’s gems.

“As a pilot project we are beginning with the sale of 500 000 carats to international buyers from December 4 to 11, 2013,” Gudyanga said, adding that “we used to sale our diamonds at cheaper prices due to sanctions that were imposed on our firms.

“Now that the sanctions have been removed, we can sell our gems to over 1 800 buyers in Antwerp.”

Industry experts contend that a single carat can fetch between $50 and $100 depending on the type and quality of diamonds — translating to an average of $37 500 000 for half a million carats.

In September, the European Union (EU) eased sanctions against Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC), a state-controlled company involved in the mining of diamonds in the Marange fields.

ZMDC operates five joint-venture mines in the gem-rich Marange.

The country’s total diamond output from Marange increased from 8,7 million carats in 2011 to 12 million carats last year.

This year, production is expected to exceed 17 million carats.

Gudyanga noted that funds realised from the sale of the gems will be channelled to the Treasury to help ease liquidity crunch in the country.

“Over the past few years diamonds have contributed something to Treasury but we want them to contribute more and that is why we are calling for beneficiation of the gems so that the country can get more out of them,” he said.

Recently, Mines minister Walter Chidhakwa noted that the sale of diamonds on the auction market will enhance transparency, as all diamonds will be accounted for.

“We hope that the prices arising out of that first auction will encourage our companies to continue to go the auction route,” he said.

“I also think that when you compare with the tender systems that we used to have, I think that there is much greater transparency in the auctions system and we hope that system will give us the benefits that we are looking for including the issue of being transparent,” said Chidhakwa.

The minister said increased transparency in the diamond mining and marketing system will give Zimbabwe the best benefits available.

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