Zimbabwe is planning to resume auction of diamonds next month, having suspended sales in February last year following the merger in 2016 of companies previously operating in the Chiadzwa area of Marange, Manicaland province, reports Zimbabwe news outlet The Herald. Seven diamond miners operating in the country's Marange diamond fields were merged to form the Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company (ZCDC), with the government having a 51% majority share. Dr. Moris Mpofu, CEO of ZCDC, earlier said sales had been stopped to allow the new company to create an effective diamond sorting and evaluation system. Mines and Mining Development Minister Winston Chitando confirmed the impending auction but did not divulge the number of carats that would be put up for sale. Earlier this month, the government of Zimbabwe reported it had doubled its diamond production to 1.8 million carats in 2017, from 961,000 carats in 2016.
“During the last year in 2017, no diamonds were sold", Mr. Chitando said. "There will be a first batch which is due for sale in February.” Subsequent to the auction, he said the government would be outlining the new strategy and methodology to address controls and accountability issues relating to future diamond sales, among other things.
The news outlet summarizes: Zimbabwe had pinned hopes for enhanced economic revival and growth on diamonds, since their discovery in Chiadzwa over a decade ago. But with more than five companies having been licensed to mine the gems, the economy did not benefit from the mining activities with former President Mugabe alleging that the country could have been prejudiced of at least $15 billion in potential diamond revenue. The lack of transparency prompted the government to create the ZCDC in a bid to promote accountability in the sector. To enhance earnings from the sector, the ZCDC has started work to mine conglomerate diamonds, which have more value than alluvials which were being mined since the discovery of the precious stones in Chiadzwa in 2006. The ZCDC has also invested $80 million in exploration activities and purchasing equipment."