Lloyd Gumbo Harare Bureau
Zimbabwe has started the process of turning itself into a regional diamond trading hub by inviting consultants to help establish its own diamond bourse expected to attract traders from all over the world.
The establishment of the diamond bourse follows a study trip undertaken by government and mining parastatals’ officials to the Antwerp Diamond Trading Centre in Belgium in 2013.
The officials have consultated further resulting in the Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe inviting consultants to spearhead the establishment of the bourse.
Bidding consultants will hold a second compulsory site visit at the MMCZ offices in Harare tomorrow ahead of closing of the tender on January 26.
The diamond bourse will be a standardised one-stop shop for trading in diamonds and semi-precious minerals and will change the face of Zimbabwe.
It is envisaged that with the bourse in place, Harare will be turned into a diamond city.
It is expected that most major world diamond buyers will come to the sales, while others will seek to set up shops for seling jewellery and other diamond artifacts.
MMCZ deputy general manager (marketing) Masimba Chandavengerwa said yesterday that the bourse will attract other diamond producers on the continent and beyond since the country’s gems were already on demand.
“Once we’ve that bourse, we’ll be able to attract big players in the diamond industry who buy in the tune of at least $10 million each,” he said.
“Most international diamond buyers have expressed their interest to come here, but they’ve been avoiding us because we’ve been doing our things in a fragmented manner.
“By having a diamond bourse, it means we’ll ensure that the grading, cutting and polishing are standardised so that we don’t have different grades coming from different miners. Buyers will know our grades from wherever they are and they’ll not be shortchanged.”
Chandavengerwa said the diamond bourse will demand syncronisation of mining activities, logistics, cutting and polishing.
He said banks, insurance companies, cutting and polishing as well as those who are into jewellery will all be under one roof, which would improve security of the precious gems and eliminate pilferage.
Zimbabwe’s diamond deposits constitute nearly 30 percent of the world diamond deposits and as such, Chandavengerwa said once the bourse was established, it would be easy for other countries on the continent to come and trade here.
“Because of the volume of material (diamonds) we anticipate here, we’ll be able to attract other diamond players such as South Africa, Botswana, Angola, Democratic Republic of Congo and Namibia.
“They’ll prefer coming to Zimbabwe to going to Antwerp or the Dubai Diamond Exchange,” said Chandavengerwa. “So, when they come here, we’ll also benefit in the form of taxes that other countries with diamond bourses are benefiting from.
“The most important thing about a diamond bourse is that everything gets to be standardised, for instance mining, cutting and polishing, jewellery manufacturing and even the way they’re charged. The problem is that at the moment, different miners are producing different quality and charging different prices. But with this arrangement in place, buyers will know our standardised quality from wherever they are.”
MMCZ has so far held several diamond auctions at the Zimbabwe diamond tendering facility at the Harare International Airport.
If the diamond trade centre is eventually established, it would compete with major centres like Antwerp, New York, Mumbai in India and Dubai in the United Arab Emirates.
The setting up of a fully-fledged diamond auctioning centre in Zimbabwe will require the adoption of appropriate technology as a main priority.
Experts have always insisted that the best way for Zimbabwe to maximise gains from the sell of its gems is to establish such an auctioning centre like Antwerp.