'Zim getting raw deal over diamonds'

HARARE - Zimbabwe is getting a raw deal and losing billions of dollars to developed countries through exporting rough diamonds, a local mining expert has said.

Zimbabwe Diamond Education College (ZDTC) principal, Stephen Muchenje, told a diamond seminar currently underway at the college that the country has vast deposits of diamonds but is getting little due to its failure to process and add value to mined resources.

“Zimbabwe supply 60 percent of the world’s diamonds, but it has no power to determine the price of the product,” said Muchenje.

He listed countries such as Israel and Belgium as leaders in determining the price of gems yet they do not have any deposits of the minerals.

“Can Belgium and Israel assist in setting up value addition structures in Zimbabwe? If they are to, what is the implication to their home industries?” Muchenje queried.

Zimbabwe is said to be one of the leading suppliers of alluvial diamonds but Finance minister Tendai Biti says proceeds are shrouded in secrecy and government is getting a pittance.

According to Muchenje, the country’s diamond production, if improved and products are processed locally, could contribute more than $40 billion annually, a figure that could transform the country’s struggling economy. - Staff Writer

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