MMCZ to hold first diamond sale in COVID-19 era

by Grace Chekai

The Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe (MMCZ) is set to hold the first diamond sale since the COVID-19-induced lockdown commenced, the Harare Post has learnt.

According to a contact within the corporation, about 1.1 million carats of diamond have been scheduled for auction through a private sale due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He said the auction would involve only four buyers from Dubai.

The contact added that the private buyers were initially expected in the country via a private jet on 23 June 2020, but, failed to make the date due to delays in processing of their travel documents. They are expected in the country any time from now to view the diamonds and go back to Dubai for deliberations and subsequently relay their offer price for the diamonds.

The same contact said the last diamond tender was held from 24 to 27 February 2020, where 415 784, 14 carats of diamonds with a reserve value of US$19 959 992.72 were put on sale.

He went on to say that Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company (ZCDC) is expecting to get a return of US$52.8 million from the private sale if the diamonds are to be sold at the previous average price of US$48 per carat.

According to the contact, MMCZ took receipt of a further 163 000 carats of diamonds from ZCDC on 22 June 2020 for cleaning and valuation. The diamonds came from Portal A in Chiadzwa, former Mbada Diamond Concession.

The contact said a further 90 000 carats are also expected to be delivered soon from Portal B, formerly Marange Resources concession which is now being operated by Anjin.

The diamonds being presently delivered are also expected to be off-loaded via a private sale as the COVID-19 travel restrictions are impeding MMCZ from inviting buyers from its diamond database for a diamond tender.

The resumption of diamond sale has been praised by experts who see it as a relief to the cash-strapped ZCDC.

A mining expert, Gift Karanda commented, “The resumption of diamond sales comes as a welcome relief to the ZCDC which was reportedly struggling for working capital to sustain mining operations with some workers in salary arrears dating back to March 2020. This will aid in keeping the mining company`s operations in motion.”

A local jeweller Anie Schmit said, “There is need, however, to ensure that the selection and invitation of buyers for the private sales remain transparent, fair and strategic, avoiding the temptation of selling the country`s diamond for a song in desperation for cash. Private sales must also be organised for domestic buyers like Aurex Jewellers who are in the business of cutting and polishing diamonds, and they rely on the MMCZ tender.”

A mining engineer, Tafadzwa Muzira implored MMCZ and ZCDC to adjust to the new normal standards of selling diamonds in the COVID-19 era. He said MMCZ and ZCDC should adopt digital means of valuing and auctioning diamond as was being done by Alrosa and other diamond players globally.

Engineer Muzira said the International diamond community had set in place standards and procedures for diamond valuing using designated valuation machines.

“This has allowed diamonds to be sold across the globe without having to physically congregate buyers for an auction. The MMCZ and ZCDC should work towards investing in the appropriate machines so as to join the international community in conducting digital sales, and keep up with the tune,” Eng Muzira said.