Zimbabwe diamond company head calls for big rise in 2013 diamond production

Zimbabwe aims to increase by 100 percent its diamond output from the Marange diamond deposits this year, said a top mining official.

“We got $684.5 million from diamond exports in 2012,” Goodwills Masimirembwa, chairman of the state-owned Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC) said in comments to the AFP news agency.

Masimirembwa said the country aims to raise exports this year to 16.7 million carats from the eight million carats sold in 2012.

He claimed the United States is preventing Zimbabwe’s diamond sales to world markets by threatening potential buyers.

“Last year sanctions [against Zimbabwe trading companies] were biting. The U.S. threatened purchasers of Zimbabwe diamonds which resulted in low diamond sales in countries like India that normally buy from us,” Masimirembwa said.

Masimirembwa also related to claims by Finance Minister Tendai Biti that diamond mining companies did not pay as much revenue to the government as expected last year, saying that out of some US$600 million expected from diamond sales, only US$40 million had been received.

“I don’t know what the finance minister will be saying but what I know is that diamond mining companies have always been paying 15 percent of the royalties to government,” Masimirembwa says.