THE government is working on a raft of incentives to attract more local companies into diamond cutting and polishing, as the country seeks to add value its natural resources.
The Kimberley Process Certification Scheme’s decision to lift its ban on Zimbabwean diamonds was an indication that the international community now had confidence in the country, Mines and Mining Development secretary Francis Kudyanga said.
He said the government was working towards plugging all leakages and would make it a policy to ensure that every diamond company had electronic surveillance.
Last year the government hiked pre-exploration fees for most minerals by as much as
8 000%, with registration fees for platinum and diamond claims going up to $2,5 million and $5 million, respectively, in a move it says is meant to curb the speculative holding of mine claims.
Official figures show that miners also pay annual ground rentals ranging from $500 per hectare for chrome to $3 000 per hectare for gems.
“So that we get more from our minerals through cutting and polishing companies, we will do that by a raft of measures waiving away the 15% value-added tax charged for local buyers who were doing value addition. The figure is still being discussed with Treasury. We are working on the issue on the licence for diamonds cutting and polishing companies to be spread over 5-10 years,” Kudyanga said.
“We are working hard in creating value addition so that we get more from the sector than what we are getting now.”
Kudyanga said the $100 000 licensing fees would be reviewed. He could not divulge how much had been contributed by diamonds to the country, but said beneficiation would be done to improve the contribution of the diamonds to the economy.
“Diamonds have contributed something and we are setting up measures that all diamonds must be cleaned before they are sold. Most of our diamonds were being sold without being cleaned which made them attract low prices. Sometimes the dirty diamonds when they are cleaned they will be gems,” he said.
A total of 12 million carats of diamonds were produced last year.