THE United Arab Emirates was last year Zimbabwe's largest consumer of rough diamonds, according to statistics from the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS). The KPCS, an international certification scheme for rough diamonds, reported in its Zimbabwe annual report that the UAE received the highest number of KP certificates (a total of 64) during the period under review.
South Africa came in second with the number of certificates issued reaching 32, with Israel in third with 18 certificates and Belgium in fourth with 15.
India, which was largely perceived as one of Zimbabwe's key consumers of rough diamonds, had three certificates. The KP Zimbabwe 2011 annual report also shows Zimbabwe exported a total of 7,15 million carats of diamonds during the period through 148 Kimberley Process certificates.
Rough diamond sales during the period could have been higher had it not been for sales restrictions placed on Zimbabwe during the period.
The KP also said it cancelled 44 certificates last year due to a number of reasons, but mostly due to the restrictions on diamond exports from the Marange fields.
"The year 2011 remained a difficult year for rough diamond exports from Zimbabwe due to protracted restrictions on exports of diamonds produced from the Marange area, leading to the cancellation of many KP Certificates," said the report.
Official figures for the first half of this year show that rough diamond production in the county has improved substantially.
Compared with the first half of last year, diamond output has increased by 129 percent from 2,2 million to around 4,29 million carats.
The Ministry of Mines and Mining Development revealed the figures to Cabinet last month.
But the increase in production of the gems this year has not translated into an expected increase in revenue from diamond sales.
This is also in addition to the fact that the KP has since lifted trade restrictions on Zimbabwe's gems.
In his presentation of the Mid-Term Fiscal Policy Review Statement last month, Finance Minister Tendai Biti lamented diamond revenue shortfalls, which resulted in him reviewing downwards anticipated revenue this year from US$4 billion to US$3,4 billion. Diamond revenue from the Marange fields for this year had been initially forecast to top US$600 million.
"Between January and June this year, diamond output has increased by 129 percent from 2,2 million carats during the first half of last year to around 4,29 million carats this time around," he said.