COMPANIES mining diamonds in Marange area are this week expected to auction up to 1.5 million carats worth of gems, raising about US$64 million, industry sources have revealed.
Chinese company Anjin Investments – which is not under United States sanctions -- is expected to put to tender about 500,000 carats while the Diamond Mining Corporation (DMC) would offer an estimated 400,000 carats.
Two other companies, Mbada Diamonds and Marange Resources, are each expected to put about 350,000 carats up for the auction which will likely attract rough dealers and merchants from India and Israel.
With Zimbabwe roughs averaging about US$40 per carat the country should realise up to US$46 million from the auction.
Diamond industry watchdog, the Kimberly Process (KP) approved the export of Marange gems last November, subject to verification by monitors Abbey Chikane and Mark Van Bockstael.
The two monitors completed their verification last month and concluded that mining operations in the area, located in the eastern Manicaland province were compliant with KP standards.
"Based on the documents provided and on the findings during the compliance verification visit to the Diamond Mining Corporation (DMC) Mine at Marange and the Diamond Mining Corporation (DMC) Sorthouse in Harare from 9-10 December 2011 and from 5-7 January 2012, the KP Monitoring Team on Marange concludes that all operations and procedures are deemed fully KPCS compliant on 16 January 2011," reads the monitors’ report in part.
Meanwhile, Zimbabwe’s cheaper roughs have attracted interest from Surat, India, the world's biggest diamond cutting and polishing centre.
"Zimbabwe is set to rule the global rough diamond supply market in the next few years. Right now, the country is offering its average goods at $40 per carat, which is very cheap compared to other mining countries, whose diamonds are sold above $100 per carat,” said Indian diamond analyst Anirudh Lidbide.
“Already, Indian cutters are aware that the Marange goods offer the best margins in the market.”
The government is expecting to raise about US$600 million from diamond sales this year which Finance Minister Tendai Biti said would be used for various infrastructure development projects as well as to fund a constitutional referendum and new elections.
However, diamond revenues have been the subject of disputes between parties to the coalition government with Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC-T party claiming the money was not finding its way into the national treasury.