Diamond production down 36pc
Happiness Zengeni Business Editor
Diamond production in the first quarter was down 36 percent to 419 788,5 carats from 660 000 in the comparable year ago period.
The downward trend is expected to continue in the short term as alluvial diamonds in the vast Marange fields are fast depleting.
Mines and Mining Development Deputy Minister Fred Moyo told a Zimbabwe Trade and Investment Forum in Johannesburg, South Africa, last week that the country had registered a decline in diamond production and an overall drop in mineral export earnings.
Zimbabwe sold rough diamonds worth $75,92 million in the five months to May 5, 2015 from 1 410 446,44 carats in Harare, latest data shows. However, after accounting for 15 percent royalties, 2,5 percent management fees and 2.5 percent depletion fees, net revenue from auctioned diamonds amounted to $60,73 million.
Zimbabwe is now holding its own local auctions after diamonds worth over $75 million were last year seized in Antwerp, Belgium, over two State debts worth $45 million. Last year, diamond exports declined by three million carats over the previous year. This is the second consecutive year that diamond production has fallen.
According to figures from the MMCZ, annual exports dropped to 5,9 million carats last year from 8,9 million carats a year earlier.
Export earnings in the first quarter were down 17 percent to $466 million from $559 million last year largely on the back of a drop in global commodity prices. Deputy Minister Moyo, however, said in spite of the drop in earnings there was huge potential for the mining industry in Zimbabwe.
“Assets are almost at a give-away at the moment considering the vast resources and quality the country possesses.”
He added that there were opportunities in the gold cluster as only 40 percent of the 4 000 gold assets in the country are being commercially worked on.
“Investors can also look in the chrome sector as the country holds 80 percent on the world’s metallurgical quality chromite resource.”
He also said there was an investment case in platinum, gas and lithium sectors.
Industry and Commerce Minister Mike Bimha, who was the keynote speaker at the event, said Zimbabwe had large reserves of minerals which had not been exploited to their full potential.
“Immense investment opportunities exist in exploration, mining and beneficiation of these minerals. Linkages are essential in transforming the country from a producer of primary products into a producer of value added goods for both the domestic and export markets.”
Minister Bimha said Government would continue to craft strategies and measures that seek to enforce implementation of value addition and mineral beneficiation across industries in order for the country to realise the true value if its assets.