Zim gems to fetch $35m in Antwerp

HARARE - Zimbabwe expects to rake in nearly $35 million from the second auction of its diamonds in Antwerp, Belgium this week.

The country — planning to resume local auctions this year — put over 923 000 diamond carats under the hammer.

Last year, it sold more than 279 000 carats in Antwerp and realised only $10,7 million at an average price of $37,5 per carat.

Francis Gudyanga, the Mines ministry’s permanent secretary, said the initial auction had “provided insight” and “tangible guidelines” that will allow government to fully optimise the current consignment.

He said the on-going auction will take place alongside regular sales organised by the State, which have attracted scores of Indian and Chinese buyers.

An estimated 115 clients showed interest in the Marange diamonds during the previous sale, compared to the 10 to 15 companies that had been attending regular auctions in Zimbabwe.

The selling of the southern African country’s gems in Antwerp has been hailed by critics.

Over the past few years, international human rights groups have accused Zimbabwe of violating human rights in the controversial Marange diamonds fields.

This led to the European Union imposing sanctions on State-owned Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation as well as diamond mining firms in Marange.

The European Union lifted sanctions on Zimbabwean diamonds in September 2013, making way for the first-ever sale of the Marange diamonds in Antwerp, which is regarded as the world’s diamond capital.

Meanwhile, Mines minister Walter Chidhakwa said the country will invite diamond buyers from Antwerp, Dubai, India and Shanghai to come and participate in the country’s auction.

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