THE Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC) has courted an Indian investor to set up a US$20 million diamond cutting plant in Mutare as the country makes a first step towards realising value from the gems.
REPORT BY NDAMU SANDU
The government has in the past received the flak for allowing the sale of rough diamonds instead of those that have been cut and polished, thereby creating employment in the buyers’ markets.
Jerry Ndlovu, ZMDC chief executive officer confirmed the development, adding that the investor would have 49%, with the remainder owned by the corporation.
Without naming the investor, Ndlovu said discussions were still underway and it would be “premature for us to disclose the company that we will be partnering with,” he said.
“If the discussions are concluded, the investor is expected to bring at least US$20 million plus equipment and building.”
Ndlovu said the project was expected to create 3 000 jobs.
He said the cutting and polishing business would generate an annual revenue of US$100 million.
He said 10 companies, both local and foreign, had shown interest in cutting and polishing diamonds.
A recent World Bank report showed that Zimbabwe was set to become the world’s fourth largest diamond producer by volume this year with 12 million carats.
Last year, Zimbabwe was the fifth biggest producer after Russia, Botswana, Democratic Republic of Congo and Canada with a share global volume of 7%.
Despite the high output, the country has not realised the true value of its diamonds as it exports roughs with no value addition.
Industry estimates showed that at least 60 000 workers would be required in Surat, the only centre in India that specialises in cutting and polishing rough diamonds from Marange mines.
Estimates showed that India has a 65% share of the world’s polished market by value, 85% share by carat volume and a staggering 90% in terms of number of pieces.