LOCAL diamond cutting and polishing companies have expanded their operations in the last few months in anticipation of the sector’s rejuvenation, Diamond Beneficiation Association of Zimbabwe chairperson, Richard Mvududu, has said.
BY MTHANDAZO NYONI
Mvududu told NewsDay that even though their industry was still in its infancy; their member companies saw positive developments amid difficult circumstances, especially with the absence of rough diamonds on the local auction system.
“We have been able to bring out the benefits of cleaning our rough diamonds thereby revealing the true value of our gemstones, one of our members — Kenako Diamonds, which specialises in deep boiling, has played a crucial role in employing world class cleaning methods that compete favourably with regional and international best practice,” he said.
“Deep boiling is the first step in the value addition value chain and we believe that is a plus for our industry. Two of our other members have also expanded their operations to include jewellery making over and above cutting and polishing of diamonds, these are Aurex, BCE Diamonds through their African Fire brand and Satombo Minerals.”
He said two other member companies, Chess Diamonds and Akim Investment, had now established international markets for the cut and polished diamonds. Mutare, Mvududu said, now had two operating factories in addition to the existing ones in Harare.
Mvududu said consistent availability of quality gem stones had been their challenge, as there were no auctions for the greater part of 2017.
However, auctions started end of the year and already we have just come out of another auction, he said.
Mvududu said the negative country perception was also a major setback because it did not attract other players who make up our value chain, that is, grading laboratory, certification and other downstream activities.
“Whenever auction is done, the issue of pricing continues to squeeze the cutting and polishing sector profit margins. We also believe that scrapping of the tender system will promote beneficiation rather that the current winner takes all tender system,” he said.
The sector, he said, was looking forward to playing their role in advising the decision makers and other stakeholders in crafting a sound diamond policy that ensures viability.
“We would like and are making effort to link up with the Special Economic Zone body, the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development, Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe and the two diamond mining houses in Zimbabwe to ensure that Zimbabwe gets maximum value from its diamonds,” he said.
He believed in a tripartite approach involving government, industry and regulatory authorities, saying this approach would see a viable diamond industry and growth in lapidary and jewellery in Zimbabwe.