The Zimbabwe School of Mines (ZSM) is set to open a Gemology training centre in Manicaland Province aimed at promoting value addition and beneficiation of precious stones in the country.
Gemology is the science of studying, cutting, and valuing precious stones, but the essence of gemology is in identifying gemstones. One who works in the field of gemology is called a gemologist, and jewellers and goldsmiths also may be gemologists.
ZMS acting training operations manager, Engineer Martin January told Sunday Business at the recent Mining Indaba in Bulawayo that the project was in line with the School’s mandate to address the National Strategy Development (NDS1).
“The Gemology Training School is part of the gemology park that will house other businesses involved in cutting and polishing and jewellery manufacturing. This is a Government initiative to address the NDS1 objective on value addition and beneficiation,” he said.
Eng January said the industry would grow and complement the attainment of the US$12 billion mining sector.
“The school will be a first of its kind in the country and will address the skills gap in the gem sector. The industry will grow and complement the attainment of the US$12billion mining industry and this is only possible if the country has skilled people, as this will ensure that beneficiation is carried out in the country,” he said.
Eng January said the chairman of the board of management is the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development.
“The ZSM a quasi Government institution that is responsible for addressing training needs identified by Government through the Minister of Mines, industry through the Chamber of Mines. The chairman of the board of management is the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development. We are committed to making our country revive its economy,” he said.
The facility will be sub-divided into four sections namely the School of Gemology, which will offer training courses across the value chain, the Diamond Manufacturing and Lapidary, which will house cutting and polishing companies, Jewellery Blacksmith and Manufacturing as well as Ancillary Services that will house all supporting businesses.
Eng January said they were in the process of developing the curriculum as the centre is expected to be complete in March 2022.
“The Gemology Training Centre is fully funded by the Government through the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development. Some work has already started, the designs for the centre including the Gemology Park, which then takes other facilities; those designs have actually been done and approved by the board. The topographical survey for the area has been done and approved by the board of ZSM.”
Value addition and beneficiation of precious stones have long been proposed by economists as the panacea to the social and economic development challenges of mineral-rich developing countries like Zimbabwe that are currently failing to realise optimum value from their vast deposits of precious gems.
Said Eng January: “The School will develop skills in the gemstone industry across the whole value chain. The courses targeted are as follows, certificate in gemology. Certificate in cutting and polishing (lapidary). Certificate in jewellery design. Certificate in jewellery manufacturing. These will be complemented with business management and entrepreneurship courses.”
Midlands State University (MSU) Faculty of Engineering and Geosciences former student, Engineer Clever Sithole who is in Afghanistan is heading the first-ever and leading gemstones processing project funded by Usaid.
The project comprising a gemstones laboratory and a lapidary centre is aimed at promoting value addition and beneficiation of precious stones in the Middle East country.