An independent diamond consultant from South Africa, Keith Lappeman, has advised that Zimbabwe should train people in diamond cutting and polishing to solve unemployment problems and maximise beneficiation from diamond proceeds.
Lappeman said this while making a presentation at the on-going mining indaba in Harare.
“Zimbabwe should even train rural women in cutting and polishing of diamonds because a large percentage of raw diamonds should be polished in order to maximise beneficiation,” said Lappeman.
“There is huge unemployment in this country and if people were trained to do cutting and polishing of diamonds, it would help solve unemployment problems,” he said.
Lappeman however said there was need for proper diamond legislation as chaos still reigned in the industry, especially when it came to identification of claims.
And contrary to the country’s critics, Lappeman said he did not believe Zimbabwe was a conflict country which did not comply with the Kimberley Process (KP) to enable it to sell its diamonds.
“I do not buy that the country has not fully complied with the KP and I do not buy that it is a conflict country as compared to other African countries. There is nothing that Zimbabwe can learn from South Africa in diamond cutting and polishing because in South Africa the figures have dropped from 400 000 polishers to less than 200 000 of them. Categorically, they have skills, but they have to introduce new training systems,” he said.
Commenting on beneficiation in the chrome industry in Zimbabwe, another South African consultant, Danko Koncar, said the ideal situation to increase beneficiation was to have mining and smelting of chrome in one company.
Koncar said the high cost of energy was a restrictive factor to beneficiation and in South Africa, most chrome miners were building their own power stations to ensure there was uninterrupted power supplies.