via Zimbabwe to lead diamond producers: Report by NewsDay Business Reporter
ZIMBABWE has the potential to become the world’s top diamond producer should the gems be sold on an open market, a Canadian firm has reported.
In its commentary on the diamonds sector, Kitco, a company that buys and sells precious metals, said nearly 60 diamond mining firms around the world, which include Zimbabwean ones at Marange fields, are this year expected to account for 84% of this year’s projected global output of 130 million carats. [see Kitco Commentary by Paul Zimnisky]
The balance (or 16%) of global production not included according to the commentary comes from small-scale operations, where production data is unreliable or not available at all.
Experts say currently Zimbabwe’s gems are being sold at below 25% of the normal price due to sanctions imposed by the United States and the European Union.
“According to Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation projections, Zimbabwe’s Marange diamond fields are expected to produce 16,9 million carats in 2013, which would make the project the largest in the world in terms of carats produced annually,” Kitco said in the report.
“Partnership Africa Canada, a non-profit organisation, estimates that production from Marange fields would be as high as 30 to 40 million carats annually if Kimberley Process restrictions did not exist (the Kimberley Process is a global non-profit organisation established to prevent the trade of conflict diamonds).
“While the Marange fields may produce more carats than any other project in the world, the quality of the diamonds produced are among the lowest in the world, averaging only $60/carat (the global average is approximately $100/carat according to Kimberly Process data).
Zimbabwe is the fourth largest diamond-producing nation in the world, and the Marange fields represent almost all of the nation’s production.”
While output of the gems is expected to rise in the coming years, critics say the country has not fully harnessed the precious stones to drive the economy. Already, government has revised economic growth rates due to underperforming mining, manufacturing and agriculture sectors.