By Ishemunyoro Chingwere
Zimbabwean gems from State diamond mining entity, the Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company (ZCDC), will now be sold through an electronic trading system to improve efficiency in line with international best practice.
Speaking at the launch of the electronic trading system which was developed by ZCDC and handed over to the State minerals marketing arm, the Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe (MMCZ), Mines and Mining Development Minister, Winston Chitando, said the system was a big step towards getting real value for Zimbabwean diamonds.
The online system will allow for the participation of international buyers who cannot physically attend an auction but would want to participate as well as do away with excessive human interface which breeds corruption.
“It is absolutely important that the country gets the requisite value from the sale of those diamonds,” said Minister Chitando at the handover ceremony which was held in Harare on Monday.
“This can only be obtained by ensuring that there is adequacy in the cleaning, there is adequacy in the sorting, there is adequacy in the processing of the whole function related to post plant and that adequacy has a number of facets.
“One facet is the sentiments of the market . . . the second facet which I spoke about, relates to the efficient handling and management of that whole process, the selling process, the bidding process, the invoicing process.
“Certainly, the manual system which we had been using was without doubt in need of urgent replacement, and replaced it was and that’s why we are here today to celebrate that,” he said.
ZCDC temporarily exited the international diamond market in April 2017 and adopted a deliberate stock piling system as it sought to address shortcomings in its Diamond Value Management which resulted in failure to recoup real value from the precious stones.
The state firm returned in 2018 with test sales to assess the market whereupon it was realised that an online auction system was the solution to most of the challenges that dogged previous auction.
“In February and March 2018, ZCDC conducted test sales to assess market sentiment and feedback on strategies employed to enhance value,” said ZCDC chief executive officer Dr Moris Mpofu.
“Among the key learning points noted from the first two tenders was the need for an electronic diamond trading system to improve efficiency,” he said.
The diamond sub-sector is expected to play a key role in the mining industry’s role in the attainment of vision 2030 by which President Mnangagwa has said the country should achieve upper middle income status.
Government has set a target where mineral revenue should grow from $2,6 billion last year to over $12 billion by 2023.
To achieve this, ZCDC has set itself a target to get to an annual production of at least 10 million carats (2 tonnes) by 2023 up from 0, 9 million carats in 2016 which it then bettered to 1,8 million in 2017 and is well on course to meet its 3 million carats (600kg) target for 2018.