Diamond Producers to form association

Staff Reporter

Diamond Producers in Zimbabwe have agreed to form an association, which will enhance the mining and trading of the germ stone.

The four major producers of the mineral met here in Victoria Falls at the side-line of the on-going African Diamond Producers Association (ADPA) conference, to deliberate on the formation of the association.

In the meeting which was chaired by Mines and Mining Development Minister, Winston Chitando yesterday, the producers set 30 April as the deadline for the association to be in motion. A committee drawn from the four major producers has been selected to work on the nitty-gritty of the new body.

The four major producers are Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company (ZCDC), Murowa Diamond and Anjin. The fourth member is Alrosa although it is still in the exploration stage.

Speaking at the meeting, Minister Chitando urged diamond miners to expedite the long overdue formation of the association so that their mining, trading and policies are standardised.

"By the end of April this year, we expect the association to be in motion. Other mining sectors have since formed their groupings and diamond producers have lagged behind in this respect. The association helps producers to have standardised policies and will also strengthen the level of influence the diamond producers will have on the diamond market," said Minister Chitando.

In an interview with Harare Post, the Chief Executive Officer of ZCDC, Mark Mabhudhu said the formation of an association was long overdue.

"The trading of diamond is different from that of other minerals which have prices that are set and fixed. With diamond, the price is negotiated between the seller and buyer and in most cases, the seller is short changed. We are not getting the real value for our product. Those who buy from us make twice or thrice the money that we get from them. It is this unfair trading that the association seeks to tackle," said Mabhudhu.

He added that the association would also rope in other members in the value chain such as diamond cutters, polishers and jewellery makers. He, however, said these sectors were more organised than diamond producers as they already have their associations.

An economic analyst, Noel Nyakudya said the envisaged association was leaving out artisanal diamond miners who are a very essential player within the industry.

"The association should rope in artisanal miners and open an avenue where they can sell their diamonds. As it is, these artisanal miners are externalising diamonds. Mozambique for instance, has recorded a substantial quantity of diamonds from Zimbabwe that crossed the border informally.

"They should emulate the gold sector where artisanal gold miners can go and sell their gold at Fidelity," said Nyakudya.

Presenting their views on the diamond mining and trading in the same meeting, Zimbabwe Environmental Lawyers Association (ZELA) urged some African countries to promote and legalise diamond artisanal mining so that communities benefit from the mineral resources in their area.

"Governments should consider adopting legislative measures on responsible sourcing. Artisanal diamond mining should be promoted and legalised in some countries so that communities benefit from the mineral resources," said Joyce Nyamukunda from ZELA.

However, it was raised during deliberations that there was a legislative challenge in roping in artisanal miners in the association because there was no law that recognises them.

Meanwhile, President Emmerson Mnangagwa is expected to officially open the conference today. Eighteen diamond producing countries from Africa are expected to attend.