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Diamond auction raised $72 million
12/08/2010 00:00:00
by Business Reporter
 
Auction ... The KP's Zimbabwe monitor A\bbey Chikane (left) chats with Prime Minister Tsvangirai (right) and Mines Minister Obert Mpofu
 
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ZIMBABWE sold 900,000 carats of stockpiled diamonds worth more than US$72 million on Wednesday in what Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai described as a “historic” development for a country which has struggled to shake off a decade-long economic crisis.

The auction was the first of two exports Zimbabwe has been allowed to make following a July agreement with the diamond industry watchdog, Kimberley Process(KP), to resume trade in rough diamonds from the controversial Marange diamond fields in the east of the southern African country.

The KP monitor for Zimbabwe, Abbey Chikane, said 900,000 carats went under the hammer during the auction that took place at the Harare International Airport under heavy police guard.

The sale was officially opened by PM Tsvangirai and attracted buyers from the United States, Israel, Russia, Lebanon and India.

Diamonds from the Marange fields near Zimbabwe’s border with Mozambique attracted controversy following allegations of smuggling, murder, rape and forced labour levelled against members of the national army seconded to guard the area.

Zimbabwe says it holds a stockpile of over 4.5 million carats of Marange diamonds worth an estimated US$1.7 billion, almost half as much as its 2010 budget.

The state-run Herald newspaper reported that the government would only gets 10 percent from the Marange diamond sales as royalties, while the Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe picks up 0,875 percent with the state-run Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC) -- which is in a joint venture with two South African firms Mbada Diamonds and Canadile Miners -- pocketing 2,5 percent. Mbada and Canadile are also entitled to five percent management fees, and the ZMDC 2,5 percent.

The remaining 79,125 percent would cover production costs based on an agreed formula with the balance going to the government through the ZMDC, Mbada and Canadile.



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