'Zim can produce 160mln diamond carats annually'

HARARE - Zimbabwe’s operable Marange mines have the potential to produce nearly 110 to 160 million diamond carats per year, a key global buyer and industry executive has said.

Vipul Shah, chairperson of the Gem and Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC) of India, said this level of production — and prospect — would double the current global output, thus meeting at least 25 percent of the world’s requirement for rough diamonds.

“Being a part of the international trade, the onus also lies upon…various markets to lend support to this growing industry and work hand-in-hand with miners who have invested in setting up international standards, and practices in mining operations… to meet the requirements of the global gem, and jewellery trade,” he said.

Shah also said New Dehli would continue to work with President Robert Mugabe’s government, as it did not believe in the “exclusivity of knowledge”.

As such, the vast Asian country was helping with the erection of an Indo-African Diamond Institute in neighbouring Botswana and Zimbabwe will also benefit from its four decades of experience in the gem industry.

In this vein, a conscious decision has also been made to “source roughs from mining countries and companies directly”.

With India holding an approximately 65 percent of the world’s polished diamond market by value, 85 percent share by carat volume and 90 percent in terms of number of pieces, the country has been a key target for Marange diamonds.

The country’s leadership is not only in the manufacturing and other technological initiatives, but also in its phenomenal consumer market.

With the third-largest gross domestic product in Asia, a growing middle class and the youngest population in the world, India has witnessed a 10 to 15 percent growth rate in terms of gem and jewellery consumption per year over the last decade.

While the country is also the largest gold consumer globally, demand for gem and associated jewellery has been growing at 40 percent-plus per annum, according to a KPMG study.

Even though it has been a key exporter of cut and polished diamonds, India has also been a substantial importer of rough diamonds from across the globe.

Like Zimbabwe, the key international market has also suffered over the last two years due to a number of factors, including rising international prices.

India, which claims to have been the first country to discover diamonds of an alluvial nature in the fourth century, is also a leading campaigner for the democratisation of the usage of diamonds by increasing yields for miners by providing ample platforms for cutting, and polishing of rough diamonds to the tee.

“Regimenting its labour force and mass manufacturing of diamonds has shown the world how it can be used for welfare of the masses beyond its usage as an item of adornment only by the rich and famous,” Shah added.

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