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Marange Diamond Sales Generate $10.7 Million in Belgium

(FILE) -- This Nov. 1, 2006 file photo shows miners digging for diamonds in Marange, eastern Zimbabwe.
Zimbabwe’s first ever diamond auction at the world diamond trade epicentre in Antwerp, Belgium, got off to a slow start with a senior government official bemoaning the low quality of the 300,000 carats sold.

The auction follows the lifting of the so-called targeted sanctions on Zimbabwe gems by the European Union in September.

The EU placed President Robert Mugabe, members of his inner circle and companies linked to them under sanctions in 2002 citing human rights abuses and poll rigging, among other reasons.

Zimbabwe accuses the West of targeting it for allegedly taking land from white farmers to resettle the majority blacks.

In a statement, Mines ministry permanent secretary Francis Gudyanga said 89 percent of the diamonds which were sold “consisted of low quality industrial goods, in general, not optimally cleaned and sorted.”

Gudyanga said the gems sold for $10,7 million of which 15 percent will go to the government as royalty.

Mines Minister Walter Chidhakwa said he hopes Washington will follow the EU queue and also lift sanctions on Harare.

He said this will see Harare increase its revenue inflows.

Kimberley Process Certification Scheme local focal point representative Shamiso Mtisi said Zimbabwe must improve the quality of its diamonds to generate more revenue.