via Zim to auction diamonds locally – DailyNews Live by John Kachembere 19 FEBRUARY 2014
Zimbabwe plans to auction its diamonds locally, Mines minister Walter Chidhakwa said.
He said a sale would be held before year end.
Chidhakwa said yesterday Zimbabwe would invite diamond buyers from Antwerp, Dubai, India and Shanghai to come and participate in the auction.
He said the inaugural diamond sale will be conducted in a “make-shift exchange” that would have been identified by the ministry.
“We are going to hold another auction in Dubai in March and then after three to four months we will hold another one in Shanghai. Depending on the expertise we would have accumulated from attending these international diamond auctions, we will hold our own auction sale in the country,” Chidhakwa said.
“Our desire is to ultimately have a permanent diamond exchange in the country comprising of factories, auction floors, shops and so on but at the moment we can identify places where it is secure to conduct our diamond auction,” he said.
The move is part of government’s strategies to improve transparency and accountability in the handling of diamond revenues.
Last December, the country believed to be holding up to 25 percent of the world’s alluvial diamonds sold 279 723 carats in Antwerp, Belgium but did not realise much from the auction.
However, the development has been hailed by critics as a critical step in reducing corruption and opaque operations in the diamond industry.
According to Global Witness, which campaigns against natural resource-related conflict, corruption and associated environmental and human rights abuses, some $2 billion in Zimbabwe’s diamond revenue has been unaccounted for since 2008.
The December auction got off to a slow start with the majority of the gems being of low quality and not properly cleaned.
Last week, Zimbabwe made a second attempt to sell its diamonds in Antwerp with the auction expected to end this Saturday.
The Mines minister said his vision is to push for the local beneficiation of diamonds as a way of empowering local people through the creation of jobs in downstream industries.
This comes as a local non-governmental organisation, the Centre for Natural Resource Governance, has said government is capable of creating over 210 000 jobs, if diamonds are cut and polished locally.
“Centre for Natural Resources Governance believes Zimbabwe can generate over $8 billion in revenue annually if a significant percentage of its rough diamonds were cut and polished locally,” it said.
The report comes at a time the Marange diamonds are on tender at the Antwerp World Diamond Centre amid expectations that the gems would fetch a higher price compared to the initial tender in December.
The initial Antwerp auction last year came three months after the European Union removed sanctions on State-owned mining company.
The Marange diamond fields, 400 km east of Harare, have been the focus of controversy since 20 000 small-scale miners invaded the area in 2008 before they were removed by the army and police.