The Indian diamond hub of Surat, where 90% of the gems sold globally are cut and polished, plans to set up direct links with Zimbabwe to access the country’s “cheaper” and high quality diamonds.
Diamonds mined in Zimbabwe are used by diamantaires, especially small and medium diamond units, in the city of Surat to manufacture near gem-quality diamonds for wrist watches and jewellery.
Dinesh Navadia, regional chairman of the Gems and Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC), the apex body of the gems and jewellery industry in India, told the Times of India: “Zimbabwe Government’s vision 2030 seeks to boost diamond production from the current level of 2.8 million carats to 12 million carats per year. Zimbabwe has alluvial diamonds and they are perfect for small cutting and polishing centres of Surat.”
Navadia added: “The diamonds mined in Zimbabwe are cheaper than other parts of Africa and this is where diamantaires could gain maximum profit. GJEPC will be setting up direct links with Zimbabwean Government for direct import of rough diamonds to India. This will help small diamantaires to purchase raw material at discounted rates.”
Shailesh Rampara, a rough diamond dealer, said: “The quality of diamonds mined in Zimbabwe is very good. It could be a win-win situation for the diamond industry in Surat and Zimbabwe.”
Zimbabwe’s diamond output is down almost 75% over the past five years, and the country is desperate to ramp up output and find markets.
Recently, Zimbabwe opened up 8,800 square metres for new diamond exploration in the Chiadzwa area, as part of a target to lift production to 12 million carats of diamonds per year.
Production in 2018 was 2.8 million carats, and the Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company (ZCDC) expected output of 4.1 million carats in 2019, although production will be hit after Cyclone Idai damaged large parts of the fields.
Under a new diamond policy, government ended its monopoly of diamond extraction in order to attract new investment.
In January, Alrosa, the world’s largest diamond company, announced it would start operations in Zimbabwe.
The state-owned ZCDC, Chinese jount venture Anjin, UK-firm Vast Resources, Alrosa and RioZim are authorised to mine diamonds in the country.
The policy says 10% of all diamonds are to be kept for local value addition, an ambitious plan given the current absence of local polishing capacity.