Belgium wants to cash in on Zimbabwe diamonds


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Belgium, which pressed the European Union to lift sanctions on Zimbabwe’s diamonds, is now trying to cash in on the diamonds and is promising better returns than any other market.

It is also offering to beneficiate the diamonds but warns that this will be a long process which has to be followed step-by-step.

According to the Antwerp Diamond World Centre rough diamond imports were up by 35 percent in February largely driven by imports from Zimbabwe.

Ari Epstein, the chief executive officer of the AWDC, told a ZimAsset awareness seminar in Harare last week that his organisation was a committed partner for sustainable development of Zimbabwe’s diamond industry.

He said that sales at Antwerp in December and February generated prices that were 30 percent above the producing companies’ expectations and an astonishing 50 to 60 percent higher than prices fetched in Zimbabwe and other diamond centres.

Prior to trading in Antwerp, Marange diamonds were sold at an average price of US$ 47 per carat, resulting in an average return on investment for the Zimbabwean treasury of US$ 7.05/ct. By contrast, Antwerp, due to its unparalleled critical mass of buyers, achieves an average price of US$80/ct., or US$12 per carat in royalties for the treasury, AWDC said in a statement.

“If all sales were to go through Antwerp, Zimbabwe would gain more than US$ 400 million in extra revenues, resulting in an increase of US$ 60 million of royalties per year,” it said.

“We have created a break-­?through by opening up the market for Marange goods and creating real added value in a fully transparent manner. We are now willing and able to help Zimbabwe to develop further, by sharing our expertise and knowledge on how the country can yield more benefits from its resources,” Epstein said.

The AWDC presented a draft Memorandum of Understanding to the government in order to embark on a joint long-­?term relationship where technical assistance, knowledge transfer and common value creation are key.

Epstein, however, cautioned that beneficiation requires the development of local skills and infrastructure as well as strong and long-­term commitments.

“We want to help build dreams, but we are not here to build a fantasy that is bound to fail. We are in it for the long run and that means taking a step-­?by-­?step approach.”

Zimbabwe is set to become one of the top five producers by volume but wants to create a local diamond industry for maximum benefit.

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Charles Rukuni
The Insider is a political and business bulletin about Zimbabwe, edited by Charles Rukuni. Founded in 1990, it was a printed 12-page subscription only newsletter until 2003 when Zimbabwe's hyper-inflation made it impossible to continue printing.

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