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Better to stop Marange diamond mining than have poor revenue, says Zim official

17 march 2014

Zimbabwe’s mines minister Walter Chidhakwa said the government would rather stop all diamond mining in Marange than let miners continue fleecing the country of millions of dollars through understating the real value of the stones they extract.
The Herald newspaper quoted the minister as saying that Zimbabwe had lost much revenue through cartels.
“We used to watch close circuit television yesterday, now we watch the footprint,” he said.
“If the footprint in Marange is 10 to 15 percent gem and if you come to me and say ‘No, we just found two percent gem,’ you are out.
“We don’t need you in Zimbabwe because you are deviating from the footprint and we know it’s deliberately happening. We have lost a lot of our diamonds.”
He said just before the last Antwerp auction, one diamond valuer had set the price at $400 per carat but this rose to $1,000 during the auction and ended as high as $18,000 per carat.
“So, tell me where is the problem? The guy who is valuing diamonds at $400 must either be a terrible valuator or he was taken aside and told not to give the right price,” Chidhakwa said.
He said his ministry would soon boost monitoring mechanisms to ensure Zimbabwe realises true value from its resources.
Chidhakwa also said the government would not extend the tenure of the five firms in Marange, some of whom were reluctant to go into underground mining preferring to concentrate on cheaper surface operations.

Mathew Nyaungwa, Editor in Chief of the African Bureau, Rough&Polished