ZIMBABWE – President Mugabe has challenged the diamond industry to invest in modern technologies, undertake new exploration projects to discover new mines and to ramp up production to full capacity and enable the country to derive maximum benefit from the precious stones.
Officially opening the second edition of the Zimbabwe Diamond Conference in Harare yesterday, Mugabe said Zimbabwe had undoubtedly become a very significant player in the world diamond industry.
“Some experts have even predicted that Zimbabwe could hold the future of the global diamond industry. As such, our country has become one of the leading international diamond producers in the world. “Diamonds should play a pivotal role in the economic development of our nation. But, so far, despite this huge mineral endowment, exploitation of the country’s minerals in general, upstream, sidestream and downstream, has been limited by factors that include power shortages, technology gap and uneven marketing conditions,” he said.
President Mugabe outlined strategies the country should employ to realise full benefit from its diamonds. “Realising the full benefits from the country’s mineral endowment will be achieved through investment in appropriate modern technologies, undertaking new exploration projects to discover new mines, exploration on existing mines to extend life of mines, ramping up production to full capacity by operating mines, and existing producers expanding current design capacities,” he said.
President Mugabe reiterated the need for the mining sector to add value to the country’s minerals through beneficiation.
“In spite of mining being an important contributor to the country’s economy, the mining sector has been limited to extraction and exploration of minerals in their raw or semi-processed form without due care taken to beneficiation and value addition. The finite resources should be made to remain competitive, in both regional and global markets.
“I would like to challenge our experts to deliberately consider options to introduce existing and emerging technologies, derived from research and development, to make value addition and beneficiation a reality,” he said. He said Zim-Asset was premised on the success of local mineral beneficiation and value addition.
President Mugabe said there were vast opportunities for value addition and beneficiation in the diamond industry. “Value addition begins at sorting level, going up the value chain to jewellery manufacturing. Local beneficiation and value addition of mineral commodities, enhances value, resulting in more revenue for the communities, investors and Government, and in accruing additional benefits such as employment and infrastructure development,” he said.
In terms of diamond beneficiation, the country reserves a minimum of 10 percent quota of all rough diamond exports for local cutting and polishing. President Mugabe revealed that Government was working on infrastructure to develop the site for the housing of the diamond industry.
“Government, through the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development, is also currently working on infrastructure to develop the site that has since been acquired to house the diamond industry. The site will house cutting and polishing companies, a diamond exchange, and related diamond industry service providers.”
He added: “Furthermore, the Government rationalised the diamond cutting and polishing licensing system, benefiting both Government and the private companies, from the revenue of the business. “Issues of licensing, tenure and access to rough diamonds, have clearly been dealt with. We therefore expect to witness much expansion in this sector.”
President Mugabe said Government crafted the Zimbabwe Diamond Policy after recognising the importance of the strategic nature of diamonds to the country. The policy seeks to ensure sustainable development of the diamond industry. President Mugabe announced that the Precious Stones Act was being amended to ensure it captures recommendations of the policy.
Government, through the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development, is working on implementing a computerised mining cadastre meant to effectively manage the country’s mining title system.
“The cadastre system will be an important tool to Government in the promotion of mining development and mineral accounting. It will also improve the ministry’s efficiency and reliability in the processing of applications for mining title. This will guarantee short lead times to tasks and ensure that investors can quickly get down to serious business without delay,” said President Mugabe.