Govt seeks to plug gemstones loopholes

09 Feb, 2020 - 00:02 0 Views
Govt seeks to plug gemstones loopholes

The Sunday Mail

Ishemunyoro Chingwere
Business Reporter

The Ministry of Mines and Mining Development, together with State minerals marketing arm, the Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe (MMCZ), will this week start work on streamlining gemstones into the broader Government mineral strategy.

Zimbabwe has been losing millions of US dollars in gemstone revenue as smugglers have been taking advantage of authorities’ laxity to buy the precious stones from small-scale producers.

In response, Government signed Statutory Instrument (SI) 256 of 2019 into law in December, with the SI meant to boost legal mopping of the stones on the ground through the licensing of interested individuals and corporates to buy from miners for onward marketing through MMCZ.

It is against this background that Government and the MMCZ will this Wednesday engage with miners and prospective buying agents on how best parties can cooperate to stop smuggling.

“Basically, what we want to do is to put order in the gemstones sector,” said MMCZ general manager Mr Tongai Muzenda.

“What has been happening is that exports are being made, but in a clandestine way, whereby nothing is coming back to proper Government set structures.

“So we seek to have our agents on the ground, as well as create hubs in areas where the gemstones are being mined.

“We also want special grants in those areas so that miners do it legally and are free to carry their special stones. Once that is done, I am sure we will have control, with revenue coming in and positively changing the lives of our people who have these gemstones in their localities,” he said.

The need to move in to maximise values derived from gemstones is in line with Government’s thrust to grow the country’s annual mineral exports from US$2, 7 billion in 2017 to US$12 billion by 2023.

The usual high earning minerals such as gold, platinum, diamonds and chrome are largely expected to drive the 2023 milestone. However, other minerals as well as small contributors like gemstones are expected to come on stream and contribute towards the attainment of the target.

Zimbabwe is home to several semi-precious stones but their potential, although suspected to be running into billions of US dollars, remains largely unknown due to lack of bankable exploratory results.

Some of the semi-precious stones available in Zimbabwe include amethyst, alexandrite, heliodor and tourmaline, among others.

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