THE Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC) is waiting for ministerial approval to conclude a joint venture with an India-based investor to pave way for the establishment of a diamond cutting and polishing plant in Manicaland.
Report by Mernat Mafirakurewa Acting Business Editor
ZMDC chairman Godwills Masimirembwa said there would be a balancing act between beneficiation and export of rough diamonds to other countries.
“We have made huge strides in that direction and subject to ministerial approval, we will be concluding a significant joint venture with an Indian cutting and polishing powerhouse to start cutting and polishing in Manicaland,” said Masimirembwa at the just-ended inaugural Zimbabwe Diamond Conference.
“That you can be rest assured. We have been working on it.
“I’m also aware that the Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe is working on the same initiatives, so we should see that progress taking place, but we should be careful in saying we would want to cut and polish everything that we produce.”
Masimirembwa noted that rough diamonds formed a major component of the local gems that the country does not have the capacity to cut and polish.
The relationship with India, according to Masimirembwa, was critical, hence the need to balance local demands and those of export markets
“So we will grow the cutting and polishing business, but being aware that we are part of this world because the million people employed in India would want to continue to keep their jobs,” he said.
“There will be that balancing act, but definitely we would want to beneficiate our diamonds and we are in the process of doing so.”
Reports from India early this year indicated that demand for low-range rough diamonds from Zimbabwe from Surat, the world’s largest cutting and polishing centre, was expected to soar.
According to industry estimates, at least 60 000 workers would be required in Surat, the only centre in India that specialises in cutting and polishing rough diamonds from Marange mines. Indian companies were expected to import $1,5 billion worth of roughs from Zimbabwe this year and the penetration by Marange stones into the Indian market has seen diamond prices go down.
The global economic slowdown has also resulted in the rising demand of low-range polished diamonds in the retail markets of India, China, Hong Kong and the Middle East.