Friday, March 28, 2014

(NEWZIMBABWE, BUSINESS DAY SA) Govt plans second Antwerp diamond auction
23/12/2013 00:00:00
by Business Day

ZIMBABWE is planning a second auction of its Marange diamonds in February, buoyed by the interest in and sale of more than 279,000 carats of diamonds in Antwerp, Belgium last week which raked in $10.7m.

Mines and mining development permanent secretary, Francis Gudyanga, said on Monday the initial sale of the Marange gemstones last week had "provided insight" and "tangible guidelines" that will allow the Zimbabwe government to fully optimise a second, larger tender of Marange goods.

"The next sale is scheduled for February 12 to 19 2014," Gudyanga said.

The European Union lifted sanctions on Zimbabwean diamonds in September, making way for the first-ever sale of the Marange diamonds in Antwerp, which is regarded as the world’s diamond capital.

Gudyanga pointed out that the auction of the Marange diamonds in Belgium would take place alongside regular sales organised by the State, which have traditionally attracted scores of Indian and Chinese buyers.

"The philosophy of trial tender of Marange goods was to enable government and industry stakeholders to make a thorough assessment of the benefits of selling rough diamonds on the open Antwerp market ... alongside the regular tenders that are organised in Zimbabwe."

An estimated 115 clients showed interest in the Marange diamonds during the sale, compared to the 10 to 15 companies that attend regular auctions in Zimbabwe.

The government is set to pocket $1.6m from the diamond auction in Belgium and will from January 1 seek to reduce the porousness of the diamond industry, of which the contributions to the fiscus have so far been minuscule.

Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa, in his budget statement presented on Thursday, indicated that Zimbabwe’s treasury would increase mining royalties from 10% to 15% as the cash-strapped government tries to grow its revenue base.

Other measures set to be introduced in the diamond industry include closed-circuit TV surveillance of the entire process of production, sorting and transportation of diamonds.

Diamond production in Zimbabwe has been on the rise to 12 million carats in 2012, from 1,3-million carats recorded in 2009.

Chinamasa has earmarked the economy to grow by 6.1% next year, on strong performance from the mining and agriculture sectors.

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