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Diamond Mining Setbacks Anger Zimbabwe Minister

FILE - Illegal diamonds from Zimbabwe are displayed for sale in Manica, Mozambique.
Mines Minister Walter Chidhakwa and the diamonds trade epicenter, the Antwerp Diamond World Centre, have joined the growing chorus of Zimbabweans raising serious concern with the alleged lack of transparency in the trade of the controversial Marange diamonds.

Speaking at the Harare Staff College in Harare on Thursday, Chidhakwa is quoted by the state-controlled Herald as saying that the government would rather halt all diamond mining in Marange than let firms operating there continue to fleece the country of millions of United States dollars through understating the real value of the gems they extract and sell through cartels.

The firms doing business in Marange are Mbada Diamonds, Marange Resources, Anjin Investments, Jinan and Diamond Mining Company.

In an assessment of the recent sale of Marange diamonds, the Antwerp Diamond World Centre took a swipe at the mining companies, raising concern with the revenue being remitted to the government, which it said was very little.

The recent auction realised more than $69 million but only about $10 million went to treasury even though four of the miners are joint ventures with the government, while Marange Resources is 100 percent is state-owned.

But earlier this week the miners told parliament that not much is being realised from selling diamonds at the Antwerp Diamond market, alleging fees charged are high. The firms are urging Harare to seek alternative markets.

The country is now expected to hold its first sale of rough diamonds at the Dubai Diamond Exchange between March 23 and 30.

Economist Chris Mugaga, director of Econometa Global Capital, said diamond sales have always been problematic.