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Conrad Mwanawashe Business Reporter
RESERVE Bank of Zimbabwe-owned minerals and precious stones beneficiation company, Aurex (Pvt) Ltd expects to conclude a strategic partnership arrangement with a technical partner in the next three months for joint ventures which will give the company a springboard to reclaim its markets worldwide.
Aurex used to export at least three tonnes of jewellery to the Americas every year, mainly chains and has capacity to supply those markets but needs to re-establish itself as a reliable source.
Hence, the company, working closely with its sole shareholder, is currently engaging international technical partners to re-establish its international markets for jewellery and break into the international markets with the cut and polished diamonds.
“Our negotiations with a technical partner, which are supported by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (the sole shareholder of Aurex) are basically to get a foothold into the international market with our products.
There are a lot of dynamics in the international markets where you need intimate knowledge of those markets. Coming from nowhere it can be very difficult to find your foot,” Aurex general manager Engineer Pasipaipa Munhumutema said yesterday.
“When Aurex was set up initially it was in technical partnership. That is how it established markets in the Americas, which markets we lost during the hyperinflationary environment and the time when gold production was very low. But now we want to restart those markets and we need strategies to ensure that we succeed in doing that.
“We hope that three months from now the whole process should have taken shape and we would have moved a long way in terms of joint ventures for local production,” said Eng Munhumutema.
He was speaking after a tour of the gold and diamond cutting and polishing facilities by Industry and Commerce Minister Mike Bimha yesterday. Minister Bimha was accompanied by officials from Buy Zimbabwe.
Aurex, the biggest corporate entity in Zimbabwe which is into large scale manufacturing and retailing of jewellery in genuine gold and silver, accesses almost 85 percent of its raw materials from local gold and silver, with imports being of finished accessories such as fasteners for earrings and alloys which cannot be sourced locally.
“We have no challenges in terms of supplies of raw materials. We buy our gold from Fidelity Printers and Refineries, which is refined gold which is in line with the laws of our country. But whatever gold we want for our production we get it. In terms of diamonds we have no challenges because we buy from the auction floor.
We also have a partnership with the Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company so we do not have any challenges in terms of raw material supply,” said Eng Munhumutema.
Last year, the company invested into a million dollar diamond cutting and polishing machine with a capacity to cut and polish 10 000 carats per month.
Recently, it commissioned the latest CAD/CAM 3D Printer technology to improve capacity and quality of custom made designs for individual customer tastes.
“Capitalisation is something which is ongoing in our company because we need to retool our machines, modernise the designs and production into automated production where there is use of computerised machines from the soft copy to the physical metal product.
Currently we are using CAD/CAM to do production of prototype items in wax but in the long term we need to move from design to metal product without going through the wax medium. So these are the areas of focus,” said Eng Munhumutema.
Aurex manufactures a wide variety of handmade and machine made jewellery.
The company has the capacity to produce in gold and silver different kinds of chains in varying styles, colours and carats, bangles earrings and bracelets. It also produces cast products including plain wedding rings, diamond or semi-precious stones studded bridal jewellery, fashion jewellery and artefacts such as the big five animals.