CONSTRUCTION of a $200 million diamond and cutting facility in Mt Hampden, Harare, which is set to be completed by year-end has resumed, Zimbabwe Diamond Technology Centre (ZDTC) chairman Lovemore Kurotwi said yesterday.
The diamond technology centre will house all diamond associates ranging from miners, diamond dealers, cutters and polishers, jewellers, financial institutions and government regulatory authorities.
The centralisation of all the aspects will address accountability, security, and transparency issues affecting the diamond industry.
According to Kurotwi, the world diamond industry could generate $71 billion in finished products of which Zimbabwe, as a major producer of diamonds, could earn about $21 billion annually from selling finished jewelry products.
Addressing a Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Mines that toured the centre, Kurotwi said the multi-million dollar project would centralise all aspects relating to diamonds to ensure that business in the precious stone sector was done speedily, efficiently and transparently for the benefit of the country.
The committee, led by Lovemore Matuke, wanted to establish how the diamond centre would benefit the country as a major diamond-producing country, and promised to invite to Parliament for further clarifications on the project’s contribution to the economy.
“Diamonds, although mined by private companies in some instances, are a national product which must be managed professionally, transparently and for the benefit of the nation,” Kurotwi said.
“The ZDTC complements government’s efforts through ZimAsset in various ways such as indigenisation and empowerment, job creation and beneficiation. The centre will warehouse 500 factories and create about 100 000 jobs when complete.”
He said the construction of the centre would facilitate a model where people who want local diamonds will be expected to come to Zimbabwe as no raw diamond will have to be exported.
Kurotwi said he had also purchased a machine that would ascertain the value of diamonds at the centre in order to move away from the traditional process where the buyer would determine the value of the diamond on behalf of the country.
Diamond Beneficiation Association of Zimbabwe (DBAZ) chairman Richard Mvududu pleaded with the parliamentarians to review policies that were stifling beneficiation programmes in the diamond industry.
He said the cost of licence fees pegged at $100 000 a year was too high while the licence tenure was too short to attract investors.
“In 2011, there were 28 polishers and they were reduced to eight in 2012, and by 2013, only one was operating,” he said.
ADBAZ member Harold Muvuti said Zimbabwe’s biggest enemy in the diamond business was policies that did not allow locals to freely trade in diamonds except through the Mineral Marketing Corporation. He said Zimbabwe had the potential to become a world jewellry dealer because it had vast diamond resources.