By Watmore Makokoba
Zimbabwe hosted a two day Zimbabwe Diamond Conference at Harare International Conference Centre which started on the 6th and ended on the 7th of November 2014 premised on the theme: “Completing Zimbabwe’s Diamond potential for the future”
The conference, a follow up to the first of its kind previously held in Victoria Falls in 2012 marked a significant improvement to its predecessor in terms of attendance after registering 700 local and international participants compared to the previous one which had about 600 delegates.
Most significant about this diamond conference was its focus which focused very much on harnessing mineral expertise and technology towards processing and value addition to enhance beneficiation for employment creation and economic growth of the country.
Officially opening the conference, President Robert Mugabe emphasised government’s commitment to prioritise value addition of the precious germs in order to unlock industrial growth thereby creating the much needed employment.
“In spite of diamond mining being an important contributor to the country’s economy, the sector has been limited to extraction and exportation of minerals in their raw semi-processed form, without due care taken to beneficiation and value addition. The finite resources should remain competitive, in both regional and global markets, therefore I would like to challenge our experts to deliberately consider options to introduce existing and emerging technologies to make value addition and beneficiation a reality”, said President Mugabe
Antwerp Diamond Centre (AWDC) which was part of the organisers and also represented at the conference says Zimbabwe has a potential to earn over $400 million annually from its Marange Diamonds, thus resulting in an increase of about $60 million in royalties per year.
Currently, the country’s diamonds are selling at an average of $45 per carat compared to an approximate market price of $450, signaling the urgent need to spearhead value addition for the country to fully realise the full potential returns from the minerals.
If the entire diamond value chain is thus implemented, the country can effectively bail itself from the current economic woes through an improved contribution to the heavily burdened fiscus. Furthermore this could significantly revive industrial operations currently in stagnation.
For Zimbabwe’s economic blueprint (ZimAsset) to bear fruit, harnessing mineral beneficiation and value addition can be the epitome of its success.
President Mugabe reiterated the crucial role beneficiation can have in fostering community development, employment creation and infrastructural development to country.
“The success of ZimAsset is therefore premised on the success of local mineral beneficiation and value addition. In that regard, the diamond industry provides vast opportunities for growth. Value addition begins at the sorting level, going up to 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
The second Zimbabwe Diamond Conference had delegates from several diamond producing and trading countries which included Botswana, Angola, South Africa, and UAE. This conference also hosted the world’s diamond industries and organisations including a Kimberly Process representative.