Harare - In the global diamond mining landscape, Zimbabwe claimed a notable position, ranking 7th in both rough diamond production measured in carats and diamond production by value. In 2022, Zimbabwe's output reached a substantial USD 424 million. This achievement highlights the country's significant contribution to the worldwide diamond industry. Diamond mining plays a significant role in the global economy, with only 22 countries actively engaged in the production of rough diamonds. These uncut, raw, or natural diamonds are extracted from deposits within these countries' territories. By examining the data from the Kimberly Process, an international certification organization, along with estimates from diamond specialist Dr. Ashok Damarupurshad, we can gain valuable insights into the world's diamond mining landscape and the contribution from Zimbabwe.

When considering rough diamond production by weight, Russia emerges as the leading global producer. In 2022, Russia mined nearly 42 million carats, establishing a substantial lead over its closest competitors. Botswana secured the second spot with 24.8 million carats, followed by Canada with 16.2 million carats. This ranking indicates that Russia's diamond production surpasses that of other countries, potentially bypassing sanctions due to challenges in tracing the origin of diamonds.

It is important to note that carat is the unit of measurement for the weight of diamonds, with one carat equivalent to 0.200 grams. This means that over 5,000 carats are required to equal one kilogram. Russia's significant lead in carat production highlights its dominance in the global diamond mining landscape.

However, the carat weight of diamonds mined does not necessarily dictate their value. Various factors, such as cut, color, and clarity, also influence a diamond's worth. When examining diamond production by value in USD, Botswana takes the top spot with a trade value of approximately $4.975 billion in 2022. Russia follows closely with $3.553 billion, while Angola secures the third position with $1.965 billion. It is worth noting that Botswana's trade value is approximately 1.5 times higher than Russia's, despite producing only 59% of Russia's diamond weight.

Similar to carat production, countries like Zimbabwe, Botswana, Angola, and South Africa produce gem-quality rough diamonds. These diamonds hold higher value in the market compared to diamonds primarily used for industrial purposes, such as those produced by Russia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

In terms of regional distribution, Africa emerges as the largest rough diamond producing region, accounting for 51.4% of global output by weight and 66.4% by value in 2022. Europe follows with a 34.9% share by weight and 32.9% by value, primarily driven by countries like Russia. North America holds a 13.5% share by weight but captures a significant 52.8% share by value, indicating the higher value of diamonds mined in this region. South America's contribution remains relatively small, representing only 0.2% by weight and 2.4% by value.

It is noteworthy that diamond mining in Africa is a relatively recent phenomenon, spanning less than 200 years. However, the continent has played a significant role in the diamond industry throughout history. Diamonds were discovered and highly valued as far back as 2,000 years ago in India, later spreading to Egyptian pharaohs and the Roman Empire. It was in the early 20th century that large-scale diamond production took off, starting in South Africa and gradually expanding to other African countries. Between 1889 and 1959, Africa accounted for 98% of the world's diamond production.

The latter half of the 20th century witnessed the emergence of the term "blood diamond," referring to diamonds mined in African conflict zones that were used to finance insurgency or criminal activities. This issue brought attention to the importance of ethical and responsible diamond sourcing and led to the establishment of initiatives like the Kimberly Process to ensure conflict-free diamonds.

Understanding the dynamics of diamond mining, including carat production, value, and regional distribution, provides valuable insights into the global diamond industry. These insights can assist stakeholders in making informed decisions and promoting sustainable and ethical practices within the diamond mining sector in our own country. So what has Zimbabwe done thus far in support of the diamond industry in the country?

The Zimbabwean government has implemented several policies and regulations to support the diamond industry. Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company (ZCDC): The government established the ZCDC as a state-owned entity to oversee and regulate diamond mining activities in the country. The ZCDC is responsible for diamond exploration, mining, valuation, and marketing, ensuring effective management of Zimbabwe's diamond resources.

Indigenization and Economic Empowerment Act: This legislation requires that at least 51% of the shares in diamond mining companies operating in Zimbabwe be held by indigenous Zimbabweans. The law aims to promote local participation and ownership in the diamond industry, empowering local communities and fostering economic development.

Diamond Policy Framework: The government developed a Diamond Policy Framework to guide the sustainable development and management of the diamond sector. The framework outlines principles, guidelines, and objectives for responsible diamond mining, including environmental protection, community engagement, and value addition.

Kimberly Process Certification Scheme: Zimbabwe actively participates in the Kimberly Process Certification Scheme, an international initiative aimed at preventing the trade of conflict diamonds. Compliance with the Kimberly Process ensures that Zimbabwe's diamonds are ethically sourced and certified as conflict-free, enhancing their marketability and reputation.

Mining Regulations and Environmental Laws: The government has established mining regulations and environmental laws to govern diamond mining operations. These regulations cover various aspects, including licensing requirements, environmental impact assessments, mine closure plans, and adherence to responsible mining practices.

While the Zimbabwean government has taken steps to support the diamond industry, there are areas where improvements can be made chiefly transparency and accountability. Enhancing transparency and accountability in the diamond sector is crucial. The government can strengthen monitoring mechanisms to ensure that diamond revenues are properly accounted for and contribute to the country's development. This includes implementing robust auditing processes and ensuring that diamond mining companies adhere to reporting requirements.

Anti-Corruption Measures: Implementing and enforcing stringent anti-corruption measures is essential to prevent illicit practices in the diamond industry. The government should prioritize combating corruption at all levels, including within regulatory bodies, to foster a fair and transparent business environment.

Community Engagement and Benefit Sharing: The government should prioritize community engagement and ensure that local communities living near diamond mining areas benefit from diamond revenues. This can be achieved by establishing mechanisms for revenue sharing, investing in community development projects, and involving local communities in decision-making processes related to diamond mining.

Environmental Protection: Strengthening environmental regulations and enforcement measures is necessary to mitigate the environmental impact of diamond mining. The government should ensure that mining operations adhere to best practices for environmental management and rehabilitation, minimizing the negative effects on ecosystems and water resources.

Skill Development and Technology Transfer: Investing in skill development programs and promoting technology transfer in the diamond industry can help build local expertise and capacity. The government should prioritize training and education initiatives to enable local communities to actively participate in diamond mining and benefit from the industry's growth.

International Collaboration: Strengthening collaboration with international organizations and industry experts can provide valuable insights and support for the sustainable development of the diamond industry. The government should actively engage with stakeholders, seek technical assistance, and explore partnerships to enhance the industry's governance and market access.

The development of diamond beneficiation in Zimbabwe holds immense significance for the country's economic growth and sustainable development, despite the substantial investment it requires. Beneficiation, which involves adding value to raw diamonds through cutting, polishing, and other processes, offers numerous advantages. Firstly, it enables Zimbabwe to retain a larger portion of the diamond's value within the country, creating opportunities for local job creation and skill development. By moving beyond raw diamond exports and promoting beneficiation, Zimbabwe can enhance its revenue generation, reduce dependency on external markets, and foster a thriving diamond industry. However, it is important to acknowledge that investing in beneficiation can be costly, requiring infrastructure, technology, and expertise. Nevertheless, the long-term benefits of a robust and value-added diamond sector outweigh the initial investment, positioning Zimbabwe for sustained economic prosperity and self-reliance.

In conclusion, Zimbabwe has made significant strides in the global diamond mining landscape, ranking seventh in both carat production and diamond production by value. The country's achievement highlights its substantial contribution to the worldwide diamond industry. However, there are areas where the government can improve to maximize the industry's potential. Enhancing transparency, accountability, and anti-corruption measures will ensure that diamond revenues are properly accounted for and contribute to the country's development. Prioritizing community engagement, environmental protection, and skill development will empower local communities and foster sustainable practices. Additionally, strengthening international collaboration will provide valuable insights and support for the industry's governance and market access. By addressing these areas, Zimbabwe can further enhance its position in the global diamond mining landscape and promote responsible and sustainable practices within the industry.