Peter Matambanadzo, Ruvimbo Chakanyuka — Government has gazetted regulations empowering local diamond companies to grade, cut, polish, crush and process the stones as well as sell them to international buyers. This is in line with the Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe (Diamond Sales to Local Diamond Manufacturers) (Amendment) Regulations of 2014 (Number 1).
Government is establishing a diamond park in Harare as it reforms the mining sector to realise maximum benefits from mineral resources as enshrined in the Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-Economic Transformation (Zim-Asset).
"Every local diamond manufacturer who has obtained rough diamonds from the local diamond pool shall sort by grading the rough diamonds by shape, clarity, colour and size and cut and polish or otherwise process the workable rough diamonds within the time and in the manner specified in its application for the purchase of the rough diamonds," read Friday's Government Gazette.
Diamond companies are compelled to submit written returns to the MMCZ general manager in relation to that quota of carats of rough diamonds purchased from the local diamond pool. Defaulters of this regulation may be barred from further business in the sector.
"Any local diamond company selling rough diamonds shall account for the source of such rough diamonds and apply to the (MMCZ) general manager for permission to sell them. Every local diamond manufacturer shall account for the source of unworkable rough diamonds by submitting a return that links the unworkable rough diamonds to the purchase source."
Unworkable diamonds are diamonds that a manufacturer has no capacity to cut, polish, crush or process and realise maximum possible material or monetary recovery.
Government said every diamond processor could participate in international rough diamond sales upon application to the MMCZ general manager.
"Any unworkable rough diamonds from the rough diamond pool or the international diamond sale shall be exported subject to satisfactory compliance to export regulations for rough diamonds," the Gazette said.
Firms that fail to securely transport rough diamonds from point of purchase to the factory would be penalised and prohibited from conducting business.
Illegal dealers and those obstructing inspectors, and anyone breaching provisions the regulations would be guilty of an offence and liable to a fine or three months imprisonment, or both.
Government also reviewed diamond licence fees from US$100 000 to US$20 000 for 10 years.
Meanwhile, the Diamond Technology Centre in Mt Hampden is set to open in June.
Speaking to The Herald, the chair of the centre, Mr Lovemore Kurotwi, said that "the country is set to benefit immensely from the project with the creation of 100 000 new jobs".
Other benefits he listed were local value addition, increased tourism as the centre would attract foreign buyers to the country, and the resultant spillover effects on the transport and hospitality sectors.
Mr Kurotwi said the diamond centre would "create confidence with investors as they would be proper management and trade of the resource".
"Investors will help fight the liquidity challenge that the country is facing with the injection of much-needed foreign direct investment that comes through the trade of diamonds in the country.
"The centre is a one-stop shop as it will have everything needed for trade and of world-class standards were billionaires and millionaires meet," he said.
Project cost has been estimated at upwards of US$50 million.
Some of the facilities at the centre are a five-star hotel, banks and a mall.
The auction floor will accommodate 50 companies, and the centre will also host insurance companies, courier firms and regulatory services.
Talks with private air charter operators to ferry buyers from Harare International Airport to Charles Prince Airport were progressing.
It will be linked with similar centres globally such as in Belgium, Botswana and the United Arab Emirates.
The centre will also provide training for skills transfer in the diamond processing sector.