By Business Reporter – Wednesday 1 April 2020
HARARE (Mining Index) – UNLICENSED foreign diamond dealers are on the rise in Manicaland province, with houses in the leafy suburbs of Mutare having been converted into illegal diamond trading centres by a syndicate of Lebanese dealers buying the precious stone from artisanal diamond miners.
Houses in Greenside, Morningside, Palmerstone and Murambi are being used for diamond trading, with sellers flocking to exchange the precious stones for hard currency, fetching less than their actual value.
According to a source, this shady business of diamond dealing in Mutare occurs at night, starting from 1800hrs till early hours of the morning.
“There are Lebanese nationals who buy diamonds from the magwejas (illegal diamond miners). Most of the sellers visit the Lebanese buyers at night. Once the sun sets, that’s when they start to trade,” revealed a source.
The diamond rush of August 2006 into Marange diamond fields which persisted until November 2008, attracted an estimated 10 000 illegal miners from all over Zimbabwe. Artisanal operations though not completely stopped, subsided, which still feed foreign buyers with the precious stones.
This illegal trading and smuggling of diamonds has been going on for over a decade. Diamonds are smuggled across the border to neighbouring Mozambique where they are then transported to the major diamond hubs in Dubai, Thailand and Lebanon, re-certify them in Antwerp to make them legal.
The Lebanese have been a fixture of the diamond trade not only in Zimbabwe but also in countries like Guinea, Sierra Leone and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
Zimbabwe’s multi-million dollar diamond industry has over the years been prejudiced of a substantial amount of revenue due to leakages of diamonds.
In January this year, the Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe (MMCZ) cautioned the nation saying there are no independent certified diamond agents in Zimbabwe.
Only four companies were in 2018 given rights to explore and mine diamonds in Zimbabwe – the Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company (ZCDC), Murowa Diamonds, Anjin from China and Russian miner Alrosa. ENDS// www.miningindex.co.zw
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