The Sunday Mail
The Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company (ZCDC) has intensified efforts to tap into Botswana’s diamond value chain in a bid to capitalise on the precious gem stones.
Zimbabwe has lost several millions of dollars in potential diamond revenue due to inadequacies, inefficiencies and under-pricing in the value chain, which saw some stones going for as low as US$30 per carat.
In an effort to stop further prejudice to the nation, the ZCDC in March exited the market so as to develop effective systems and capacity for best practice in cleaning, sorting and valuation with the move being supported by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ), which gave the entity capital support.
Their efforts have also been boosted by strong performance on the production front, which has seen them reaping over 1,5 million carats so far this year; compared to just 961 537 carats that earned the country just over US$42 million last year.
The Botswana example
Contributing 23 percent of the world diamond output, Botswana has been mining the precious stones since 1969 and the sector is one of the key pillars of the Southern African country’s economy, accounting for 20 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) as well as 35 percent of fiscal revenue.
Just like is the new set-up locally where the State has taken over diamond mining operations, the Botswana government is a major shareholder in Debswana – which exploits the precious stones – together with international diamond miner De Beers.
The joint venture has four diamond mines, namely Damtshaa, Orapa, Jwaneng and Letlhakane.
According to ZCDC chief executive officer Dr Morris Mpofu, the State miner has been on an offensive in search of knowledge to implement best practice.
“In an effort to learn from industry leaders internationally, ZCDC engaged the Botswana government through the assistance of the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development,” said Dr Mpofu.
“An initial visit was made by members of the Diamond Value Management Project, comprising the CEO and other management executives.
“The team was taken through the downstream value management industries, which comprise cleaning, sorting, valuation, sales and marketing. The visit showed the current bottlenecks in ZCDC’s Diamond Value Management (DVM) systems, infrastructure and processes and the necessary steps and investment that ZCDC should make to address the same,” he said.
Engagements between Mines and Mining Development Minister Walter Chidhakwa and Botswana’s Mines and Mining Promotion Minister Sadique Kebonang saw Botswana Government Diamond Valuators (GDVs) coming down to Chiadzwa last week and sampling 140 000 carats of the 1,4 million carats stockpiled by ZCDC.
The Botswana GDVs, according to ZCDC, gave positive feedback on the sorted diamonds and are now expected back in a fortnight when they will comprehensively valuate the rest of the 1,4 million carats ahead of an international auction that could earn Zimbabwe up to US$200 million.
“The Botswana GDVs first visit last week conducted an assessment by sampling about 10 percent of Zimbabwe’s sorted diamonds.
“The visit by Botswana GDVs marked the beginning of a mutually beneficial relationship that could benefit Zimbabwe and Botswana through strengthening the Southern African region’s diamond mining industry.
“Having given positive feedback on the quality of the diamonds, the Botswana GDVs are expected back to Zimbabwe in the next two weeks to now conduct a comprehensive valuation of the 1,4 million carats in preparation for a possible sale,” Dr Mpofu.