An international diamond expert visiting Zimbabwe said Tuesday the country could become the world's largest diamond producer if the Marange diamond fields were exploited to the fullest.
Speaking at the official launch of the Zimbabwe Diamond Technology Center in Harare, Fillip van Laere of the Antwerp Diamond Industry in Belgium, said projections based on mining activities by the two companies in the area show that Zimbabwe can produce 40 million carats of diamonds per year and earn about US$ 2 billion.
The diamond expert said with only 10 percent of the field being mined at the moment in the controversial Marange fields, production would increase if more players are brought in to work in the area.
Van laere said Zimbabwe had the potential of becoming the world's most important diamond producer, surpassing countries like Russia, Botswana and South Africa, adding that Harare's major challenge is in harvesting the diamonds responsibly and maximise profits.
With the launch of the diamond technolgy centre, which will cut and polish diamonds from Marange, Van laere said Zimbabwe is on course to adding value to the diamonds and increase revenue from the gems.
The US$13 million centre is owned by Canadile Miners, whose chairman Cogan Matanhire told delegates at the launch that when fully operational, it will create more than 7 000 jobs.
Guest of honour at the event and Mashonaland West governor, Faber Chidarikire, said the centre will lessen headaches for fiscal authorities as it expected to bring in more revenue into the country.
Van Laere is part of a four-member belgian delegation currently touring Zimbabwe. The team met with Mines Minister Obert Mpofu Monday.