Conrad Mwanawashe Harare Bureau
ZIMBABWE sold 1,4 million carats of rough diamonds worth $75,92 million from local tender sales in the first five months of the year, data received from the Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe shows.
During the five months to May 5 a total of 1,410,446,44 carats of rough diamonds were sold for $75,924,434.84.
March sales, which included a direct sale, realised a combined $26,539,390.84 from the sale of 555,889.59 carats.
April sales topped $15,562,894.25 from 255,346.12 carats while the last sale on May 5 raked in $13,889 892,49 from 250,476,86 carats.
In January Zimbabwe realised $11,294,728.35 from the sale of 205,863.27 carats of rough diamonds while the February sale brought in $8,637,528,91 from 142 870,60.
However a total of $15,184,886,97 made up of 15 percent royalties, 2,5 percent management fees and 2,5 percent depletion fees, was deducted from the total sales leaving a net revenue at $60,739,547.87.
Last year, Zimbabwe conducted its first ever diamond tender held in the country at the newly constructed diamond sale facilities at the MMCZ.
The diamond tender attracted 410 buyers, which was the highest number of bargain hunters for the local gems. The eleven-day tender attracted 133 companies and was as successful as other tenders held in Antwerp, Belgium and in Dubai.
The construction of the diamond tender facility and the sale of the gems locally was influenced by the need to ensure security of the stones following the seizure of $45 million worth of diamonds by a South African company and some white former commercial farmers in Belgium last year.
The diamonds were however, returned after court ruled in Zimbabwe’s favour.
Diamond export receipts last year declined to $350 million from about $466 million in 2013 while annual exports dropped to 5.9 million carats from 8.9 million carats the prior year.
Zimbabwe hopes to recover from the decline in exports following the discovery of about 105 kimberlites in Marange with some companies having started the exploration of the kimberlites deposits moving away from alluvial mining.
Kimberlite is an igneous rock best known for sometimes containing diamonds.
The alluvial deposits, which have a higher component of industrial value than gems, are fast running out but the discovery of the 105 kimberlites gives new hope.
The Minister of Mines and Mining Development Walter Chidhakwa last year told Parliament that Government had directed diamond mining companies to switch to exploiting the kimberlites deposits.