ZIMBABWE is planning to establish a provisional diamond exchange by the end of the first half of this year, Mines and Mining Development Minister Walter Chidhakwa has said.
Addressing the media yesterday on the minerals beneficiation conference scheduled for Victoria Falls next week Minister Chidhakwa said Government was presently gathering expertise.
“After two or three more auctions we should be able to do an auction in Zimbabwe around June or July. But that depends on the experience we would have put together,’ he said.
“I was talking to the (Mines and Mining Development) secretary saying why should we go to other exchanges.
“Surely the same buyers who are going to Dubai can be invited to come to a makeshift Zimbabwe diamonds exchange. Let’s use the expertise out there so that we also have a diamond exchange in Zimbabwe,” the minister said.
Zimbabwe extracts diamonds from Marange (Manicaland) and Murowa (Midlands) and is believed to have the capacity to supply up to 25 percent of gems traded on global markets annually.
Part of the expertise gathering process would see Zimbabwe marketing some of its diamonds on other global exchanges that include Dubai in UAE and Shanghai in China.
Minister Chidhakwa said the ultimate desire was to cut, polish and auction a significant portion of the country’s gems locally.
The country has been marketing its diamonds on the Antwerp Diamond Centre, a public private exchange in Belgium.
Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa recently said diamonds from Marange will now be sold in China and the EAE as Government seeks to maximise revenue from the precious stone.
Zimbabwe fetched US$10,5 million from the sale of around 300 000 carats of gems on the Antwerp diamond market in December last year. Government is set to reveal details of the proceeds from the last diamond sale in Antwerp on Saturday.
Minister Chidhakwa also said in a bid to promote local beneficiation of diamonds, Government had slashed the licence fees for companies in cutting and polishing from US$100 000 for a one licence to US$20 000 for a 10-year licence.
He said Government was not in the business of making money through exorbitant licence fees, but of creating industries. The minister said renewal of licences on an annual basis was a potential breeding platform for corruption.
The minister also said Government would resolve issues around the 50 percent discount value loss cutting and polishing companies may incur if they decide to re-sell their gems to the Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe.
The beneficiation conference to be held in Victoria Falls from February 27 to February 28, 2014 will bring together people from Government, the mining industry, financiers and other stakeholders to explore opportunities in the mining sector.
The objective of the conference is in line with the Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-Economic Transformation, Government’s medium term economic blueprint 2014 -18, goal of maximising mining sector contribution to economic development through value addition and beneficiation.