via Diamond players set up pressure board – NewsDay Zimbabwe 1 October 2014 by Everson Mushava
STAKEHOLDERS in the diamond sector have agreed to set up an independent board to pressure government to utilise the Zimbabwe Diamond Technology Centre (ZDTC) auction floors as the country readies to conduct its first diamond auction on home soil next month.
Speaking at a diamond stakeholders’ meeting on Monday, ZDTC boss Lovemore Kurotwi said the auction floors would be ready for use by next month and efforts would be made by the yet-to-be established diamond board to engage government to utilise the facilities.
He said it was the responsibility of the diamond industry to put up its facilities and take government on board.
“The diamond board would be represented by all diamond stakeholders including miners and government officials. This is just the beginning. We have to start by having an organisation to negotiate with government,” Kurotwi said.
Mines minister Walter Chidhakwa last month told parliamentarians that government would auction its diamonds locally starting next month after about $45 million of diamond revenue was seized by a South African company, Amari Platinum Holdings Limited, in Beligum. The company had been granted an interim order against the Zimbabwean government over a cancelled platinum concession.
Kurotwi said the ZDTC, when complete, would have about 500 factories and would accommodate 38 diamond buyers at any given time.
Several companies, mainly diamond cutters and polishers, banks, insurance, security, airlines and caterers, and courier services, attended the meeting and pledged to take up space at the one-stop shop diamond auction floor.
Retired Colonel Charles Mugari, a diamond cutter and polisher, said the new diamond board would play a critical role in ensuring that beneficiation of diamonds would be regarded a priority.
He pleaded with government to ensure that licences for diamond cutters and polishers be reserved for locals while international investors would only be allowed in as partners.
Of the 70 local diamond cutters licenced by government in 2010, only five have remained in business while the majority have been pushed out of business because they had limited access raw diamonds.
Of all the diamonds produced in Marange, only 10% are given to the local cutters while 90% gem quality diamonds are exported as raw.