Zimbabwe has struck a deal with Botswana to start processing its diamonds at the world-renowned Diamond Trading Company (DTC) in Gaborone, in a move that is expected to see the country get the maximum possible value from its precious stones.
The diamond deal was one of the agreements sealed during the high-level Zimbabwe-Botswana Bi-National Commission (BNC) summit held in Harare last week.
Implementation of the deal will start immediately, with diamond experts from DTC — which is regarded as the world’s most sophisticated diamond sorting and valuing hub — expected in the country this month. Through the bilateral arrangement, Zimbabwe will ship its diamonds to Botswana for processing, cleaning and polishing before they are placed on the market.
Botswana’s Minister of Mineral Resources, Green Technology and Energy Security Eric Molale told The Sunday Mail on the sidelines of last week’s BNC that the country had agreed to offer its full expertise in the diamond sector.
“We have set up a technical team that will be coming here this month to determine the scope of the work that has to be done in that area. We believe that at the end, it will be a win-win situation. We have the world-renowned Diamond Trading Centre and we want Zimbabwe to take part in that centre. We need to help them to meet the standards of our trading centre, so the important thing is that they should learn first from our centre,” said Minister Molale.
“Secondly, we want to train them in the whole value chain of diamond mining, valuing, processing, jewellery manufacturing and so forth. So there is a lot of work to be done, but I think we are at the tail-end of it. We will have an implementation plan starting in March.”
The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for cooperation in geology, mining and metallurgy signed between the two countries, Minister Molale added, provides the bilateral pillars to support the deal.
Minutes of the MoU that were gleaned by this paper last week indicate that parties agreed to appoint a joint committee made up of officials from either country to oversee the implementation of the deal.
“The Commission (BNC) acknowledged Botswana’s extensive expertise in the mining sector and appreciated the signing of the MoU during the inaugural session of the BNC.
“The Commission noted that Botswana was ready to undertake a technical support visit by diamond experts to assess the diamond sector in Zimbabwe in order to have a holistic framework on support to offer. The issues around this are technical support, value addition, cleaning and marketing of diamonds.”
The agreed minutes further revealed that the two countries would finalise the implementation plan by end of next month.
“The Commission urged the parties to establish the Joint Committee for implementing the Memorandum of Understanding by the end of April 2019, and Botswana undertook to submit the implementation plan for the MoU by May 2019.
“Zimbabwe agreed to extend an invitation to Botswana Diamonds Experts by the 29th March 2019,” read part of the minutes.
During his visit to Botswana last year, President Mnangagwa, who also had the opportunity to tour DTC, said Zimbabwe was prepared to learn strategies for developing its diamond industry. The arrangement, he said, is part of a broader initiative to come up with a diamond policy for Zimbabwe.
“In Zimbabwe, yes, we have diamonds, but we do not really have a diamond policy. We are now crafting the policy, discussing with Botswana, Namibia and Angola to assist us in formulating a diamond policy for Zimbabwe.
“But currently, there is discussion between my Minister of Mines and Botswana’s Minister of Mines so that we bring our diamonds from Zimbabwe to be processed here,” he said at the time.
Experts believe that Zimbabwe’s diamonds can fetch considerably higher prices when they are competently processed.