Le­sotho to es­tab­lish di­a­mond cen­tre

Lesotho Times - - Business - Bereng Mpaki

THE Min­istry of Min­ing has set aside M5 mil­lion of its bud­getary al­lo­ca­tion to­wards the es­tab­lish­ment of a di­a­mond cen­tre.

ac­cord­ing to Min­ing Min­is­ter Le­bo­hang thotanyana, the cen­tre would be es­tab­lished on the ra­tio­nale that ben­e­fits from the pre­cious stones would not be re­alised in min­ing alone, but also by adding value and shrewd mar­ket­ing.

“the cen­tre will be launched as soon as dis­cus­sions to­wards tem­po­rar­ily hous­ing it within the Cen­tral Bank of Le­sotho build­ing are fi­nalised. A per­ma­nent lo­ca­tion will be ar­ranged at a later stage,” Mr thotanyana said in an in­ter­view this week.

He said the fa­cil­ity, which would sort, val­u­ate and clas­sify the di­a­monds, was also meant to foster lo­cal par­tic­i­pa­tion and cre­ate more job op­por­tu­ni­ties in the sec­tor for Ba­sotho.

“the di­a­monds will be sold in an or­derly and se­cure man­ner at the cen­tre to both in­ter­na­tional and do­mes­tic buy­ers,” said Mr thotanyana.

“Do­mes­tic buy­ers will be able to buy a cer- tain per­cent­age of the di­a­monds for pur­poses of cut­ting and pol­ish­ing be­fore re­selling them.

“This is part of the govern­ment’s ef­fort to in­tro­duce ben­e­fi­ci­a­tion in the in­dus­try as well as in­spir­ing lo­cals to par­tic­i­pate for the pur­poses of job cre­ation.”

the min­is­ter said it was time that Ba­sotho were adorned with di­a­monds that were mined in their own coun­try, since they are cur­rently ex­ported in a raw form to Europe where they are then pro­cessed and sold.

“We have re­alised that it is dif­fi­cult for Ba­sotho to ac­cess to Le­sotho-mined di­a­monds un­der the cur­rent sys­tem since they are sold abroad,” he said.

“It is also an anom­aly that Le­sotho is a di­a­mond pro­ducer, yet Ba­sotho don’t were di­a­monds.

“So, we hope this is­sue will be ad­dressed when the cen­tre starts op­er­a­tion.”

He said the cen­tral­i­sa­tion of the sec­tor would ad­dress ac­count­abil­ity, se­cu­rity, and trans­parency is­sues af­fect­ing the di­a­mond in­dus­try.

Mr thotanyana also re­vealed that the min­istry in­tended to ren­o­vate the na­tional geo­science lab­o­ra­tory to fa­cil­i­tate min­eral ex­plo­ration ac­tiv­i­ties. The min­istry cur­rently re­lies on the Coun­cil for Geo­science in Pre­to­ria, South Africa for the anal­y­sis soil sam­ples and rocks col­lected from min­eral ex­plo­ration sites.

“You can­not place your de­pen­dency on other coun­tries for too long be­cause they can choose the in­for­ma­tion to di­vulge and keep from you,” he said.

“this year, we have bud­geted M4.5 mil­lion to carry out the ren­o­va­tion ex­er­cise which will en­able us as a na­tion to dis­cover our own min­er­als.

“this is a strate­gic in­vest­ment which is part of the govern­ment’s at­tempts to be in­de­pen­dent in man­ag­ing our min­er­als re­sources. “For­eign in­vestors and other coun­tries should only come in to as­sist where we fall short.”

the Min­ing Min­istry, Mr thotanyana said, had also set aside M3.2 mil­lion for a geo­chem­i­cal map­ping pro­ject to iden­tify 23 min­er­als other than di­a­monds.

He said three quar­ters of the coun­try had so far been cov­ered and five anom­alies of cop­per, nickel, zinc, ura­nium, and lan­thanum had been iden­ti­fied, with re­sam­pling to be un­der­taken in the af­fected ar­eas.

Min­ing Min­is­ter Le­bo­hang Thotanyana

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