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Chidhakwa threatens to stop diamond mining in Marange

Mines Minister Walter Chidhakwa today said it is better to stop diamond mining in Marange than to continue losing money to the miners. Chidhakwa’s statement must come as a shock to diamond monitoring groups which have over the years accused the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front of siphoning billions of dollars from Marange. “We used to watch close circuit television yesterday, now we watch the footprint. If the footprint in Marange is 10 to 15 percent gem and if you come to me and say ‘No, we just found two percent gem,’ you are out. We don’t need you in Zimbabwe because you are deviating from the footprint and we know it’s deliberately happening. We have lost a lot of our diamonds,” Chidhakwa said. The minister said there was something wrong with the valuation system because one valuer had set the price at $400 per carat but during the auction this rose to US$1 000 per carat and ended up at US$18 000 per carat. There was also confusion as to the mix of gem and industrial diamonds with one company saying it was 70 percent gem and 30 percent industrial while another said it was 15 percent gem but Indian buyers said there were no industrial diamonds in Zimbabwe. “One of the touching stories was that the people who buy your diamonds on the local tender system are controlled by one person and that one person is controlled by one of your producers. So they buy your diamonds at US$34 a carat,” he said.



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