Martin Kadzere Senior Business Reporter
Zimbabwe resumed diamond auction last week, but attracted fewer international buyers than expected, the Minerals and Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe said.
The auction – the third to be conducted this year – attracted 32 buyers mainly from Asia, the Middle East and Africa, MMCZ acting general manager Masimba Chandavengerwa said.
About 450 000 carats are expected to go under the hammer during the auction expected to close this week.
This year, Zimbabwe conducted two diamond auctions in February and April.
“We sent invitations to over 100 buyers but the response was not as good as we expected,” Mr Chandavengerwa told The Herald Business last Friday. “Our international participants are mainly India, Dubai, Israel, South Africa, Namibia and Botswana.”
The diamonds being auctioned are produced by Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Mining Company.
The ZCDC was formed in March 2016 after the Government evicted all diamond mining firms in the Chiadzwa fields after their licenses expired.
Some of the mining companies affected include Mbada Diamonds, Anjin Investments, Marange Resources, Diamond Mining Company, Jinan, RERA, Kusena and Gye-Nyame.
Since the beginning of the year, Zimbabwe produced nearly 1,8 million carats of diamonds, almost the same output for the whole of last year, the ZCDC said last month.
The commissioning of the new mining equipment will see ZCDC ramping up production from a monthly average of 200 000 carats to 300 000 tonnes, the ZCDC added.
The ZCDC is mainly extracting conglomerate diamonds in Chiadzwa in the eastern Zimbabwe while exploration for kimberlite diamonds in Mwenezi has started.
The exploration works includes gravity and ground magnetic geophysics. The geophysics methods ran on some of the kimberlite pipes in Mwenezi have successfully delineated the kimberlite pipes and dykes ore body outlines. According to the ZCDC, pitting and trenching is in progress for geological mapping to further increase the confidence levels of the ore body outline. Kimberlites are geological formations of igneous rock in which diamonds are sometimes found.
Zimbabwe has more than 130 known kimberlite pipes and dykes, which occur in clusters.
The Mwenezi cluster is known to have the bulk of the kimberlite pipes and dykes of varying sizes.
ZCDC CEO Morris Mpofu told our sister publication Business Weekly last week that the exploration exercise was meant to ascertain the degree of commercial value of the kimberlites.
The Government is in the process of formulating a new diamond policy, which will lead to the unbundling of the ZCDC to ensure more players are involved in the sector, President Mnangagwa said in May this year.
Apart from attracting new investments into the sector, the new policy would also ensure communities around the diamond fields benefit from the resource by imposing a legal requirement for meaningful corporate social responsibility programmes.