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Zimbabwe Mining Fees Increased as Marange Diamond Issue Remains at Standstill

Critics say the raise in fees is hefty but they are unsure how it would impact new investment in Zimbabwe mining

In an effort to attract investors, Zimbabwe's mines ministry has increased fees including those for the exploration of coal and diamonds, reports by the state media have revealed.

The state-controlled Herald newspaper said the exploration fee for diamonds had increased twenty-fold to US$1 million while the coal fee went up five-fold to $100,000 from $20,000.

Critics said the raise in fees is quite hefty but they're unsure how it would impact new investment in Zimbabwe mining.

Deputy Mines Minister Gift Chimanikire confirmed the increases saying the revised mining charges now include fees for services such as sample testing which was previously footed by the government.

The increase is sought to curb speculative holding of claims and push for fully committed investors. Chimanikire said the revised fees follow the regional trend and will not deter investors from sseeking claims.

Meanwhile, Indian diamond industry executives said the continued standstill with Marange diamonds will devastate the Indian diamond market as Harare remains silent on a recent amendment voted on by Kimberley Process members, giving the country a possible greenlight to sell its controversial diamonds.

The Indian diamond industry, which is the biggest importer of Zimbabwean diamonds, said it expected an increase in revenue for 2011 with imports of an estimated six million carats of diamonds. But without an approval from the Kimberley Process for Zimbabwe to market the diamonds, executives said their figures will be much less.

The new Kimberley chairman Mathieu Yamba of the Democratic Republic of Congo is said to be engaging Harare in a series of consultations before a final decision is made.

Campaigner Elly Harrowell with Global Witness, a member of the Kimberley Process, said the decision will weigh heavily for India, adding in the long term, consumers from India would not want to purchase any diamonds not cleared by the KP.