THE Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe (MMCZ) has revealed that local diamonds, concentrated in Manicaland Province, are not as valuable as is widely believed, with 75% of them being of industrial grade, not the more expensive gem quality.
Speaking to journalists recently MMCZ Sales Executive Ezekiel Mafara emphasised that Zimbabwe could not earn more from diamonds as compared to Botswana and Namibia due to that factor.
Botswana is the world’s leading producer of diamonds by value due to their gem quality which is similar to those in Namibia and Angola.
Mafara’s comments were shared just before a tour of Chiadzwa diamond fields organised by Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company (ZCDC) and the Zimbabwe Union of Journalists (ZUJ).
“Our diamonds have less value, yes we are number of four and number seven but the bulk of them are industrial diamonds,” said Mafara.
“90% of the value of diamonds is from gem diamonds. In our case, almost 75% are industrial diamonds with little value.
“We will not get what Botswana, Namibia or Angolans are getting because theirs are 90% gem.”
ZCDC Spokesperson Sugar Chagonda said perceptions around the value of Zimbabwe’s minerals had to be corrected as villagers had, before engaging them, been of a belief that trucks leaving Chiadzwa Mine were carrying tonnes of the mineral out of the country.
A diamond rush that started in 2006 saw government beefing and cordoning off areas identified to have diamond deposits, kick-starting large-scale mining of the precious mineral.
Initial conflict between companies granted approval to mine and communities around Marange led to sanctioning of diamonds from there by America, an act Mafara said has massively affected sales.
America contributes 51% of the global market for diamonds.
Added Mafara: “Rough diamonds from Marange have been sanctioned by the Americans so anyone who buys them and they come to know that you bought them they take that money.
“They make it almost impossible to transfer payments for rough diamonds and that affects the quality of clients we get.
“Who wants to come here if you are going to be red-flagged by the Americans and De Beers?” – (New Zimbabwe)