Veil of se­crecy dis­carded in min­ing:

The Sunday Mail (Zimbabwe) - - FRONT PAGE - Ishe­mu­n­y­oro Ching­were Busi­ness Re­porter

THE di­a­mond pol­icy adopted by Gov­ern­ment dur­ing last week’s Cab­i­net meet­ing, which is meant to spear­head de­vel­op­ment of the multi-bil­lion dol­lar sub sec­tor, will be an­chored on trans­parency and will see all play­ers be­ing man­dated to in­stall real time ac­cess tech­nol­ogy for their op­er­a­tions.

Min­ing is a key pil­lar of the econ­omy and an­nual di­a­mond pro­duc­tion is en­vis­aged to reach 10 mil­lion carats, up from 1, 8 mil­lion carats achieved last year.

The Min­istry of Mines and Min­ing De­vel­op­ment is work­ing to­wards grow­ing the coun­try’s over­all min­eral ex­ports to USD12 bil­lion an­nu­ally, ac­cord­ing to of­fi­cial doc­u­ments.

While Botswana has man­aged to an­chor its eco­nomic growth on di­a­mond pro­duc­tion, lo­cal gems have in the past failed to pro­vide the re­vival spark largely due to a veil of se­crecy which was a source of cor­rup­tion in the pre­vi­ous dis­pen­sa­tion.

Prior to the con­sol­i­da­tion of di­a­mond

min­ing in 2016, Gov­ern­ment re­ceived a measly $282 mil­lion in six years through taxes and div­i­dends from all di­a­mond firms that op­er­ated in Chi­adzwa. This was due to leak­ages.

In an in­ter­view with The Sun­day Mail Busi­ness on Fri­day, Mines and Min­ing De­vel­op­ment Min­is­ter Win­ston Chi­tando, said the pol­icy will cast light on all di­a­mond min­ing ac­tiv­i­ties, in real time, thus ex­tin­guish­ing un­der­hand deal­ings and un­der dec­la­ra­tions.

Un­der the new di­a­mond pol­icy, Gov­ern­ment will — through ZCDC, own 46 per­cent of all di­a­mond op­er­a­tions in the coun­try. Five per­cent will be re­served for lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties while the re­main­ing 49 per­cent is open to any in­vestor.

“Each di­a­mond mine, at its own ex­pense, will be re­quired to es­tab­lish real time site mon­i­tor­ing ac­cess of its op­er­a­tions to the Min­istry of Mines and Min­ing De­vel­op­ment and the Minerals Mar­ket­ing Cor­po­ra­tion of Zim­babwe (MMCZ),” Min­is­ter Chi­tando said.

“This is meant to en­sure that the min­istry and MMCZ will be aware of what will be hap­pen­ing at each di­a­mond mine,” he said.

The Min­is­ter said only ZCDC, Murowa Di­a­monds and two other min­ing com­pa­nies to be an­nounced soon will con­duct the di­a­mond min­ing busi­ness.

Any other in­ter­ested par­ties will have to part­ner any of the four en­ti­ties.

Un­der the pol­icy, ZCDC will es­tab­lish a Di­a­mond Value Man­age­ment Cen­ter with sup­port from tech­ni­cal part­ners and its man­date will be to clean, sort and value add the pre­cious stones be­fore they are re­leased to MMCZ for mar­ket­ing.

Val­u­a­tion has pre­vi­ously been an area of weak­ness for Zim­bab­wean di­a­monds, with some go­ing un­der the ham­mer for as lit­tle as $54 per carat due to lack of proper clean­ing and poor mar­ket­ing.

Gov­ern­ment will see to it that con­struc­tion of the cen­tre is ex­pe­dited so that it can be­come op­er­a­tional by end of 2019.

“That cen­tre will be es­tab­lished by ZCDC and it will in­vite tech­ni­cal part­ners. It will be re­spon­si­ble for the clean­ing, sort­ing and val­u­a­tion of di­a­monds,” Min­is­ter Chi­tando said.

“When the di­a­monds have been val­ued, they will be stocked un­der the aus­pices of the MMCZ, which will then over­see the sell­ing process.

“But by then, our di­a­monds will have been val­ued and have a re­serve price un­der which they can­not be sold un­der the said re­serve price,” he said.

The di­a­mond pol­icy also man­dates pro­duc­ers to re­serve at least 10 per­cent of all pro­duce for lo­cal cut­ters. Gov­ern­ment in­tends to en­sure that as ca­pac­ity grows, a big­ger chunk of the pro­duce will be re­served for lo­cal cut­ters.

As part of the new or­der, ZCDC, which had pre­vi­ously adopted a stock­pil­ing pol­icy so as to at­tend to bot­tle­necks in mar­ket­ing, will be asked to dis­pose of its en­tire stock by end of first quar­ter next year.

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