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Dubai Conference Highlights Africa's Interest in the Trading Hub

Apr 21, 2015 6:46 PM   By Ronen Shnidman
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RAPAPORT... The second Dubai Diamond Conference opened on Tuesday with a diverse group of diamond industry players heralding the city and Emirate's  transition into a significant international diamond trading hub over the past decade.

The conference, a sequel to the first Dubai Diamond Conference held in 2011,  again welcomed Africa's diamond producing nations, all of which  were particularly well represented.

Zimbabwe's  Mines and Mining Development Minister, Walter Chidhakwa, elaborated on his government's plans to consolidate the diamond mining industry into one, partly state-owned, mining company called the Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Mining Company (ZCDMC). Chidhakwa said that ZCDMC would be 50 percent owned by the government and the other share would be apportioned on a proportional basis to the amalgamated companies -- based on their relative contribution to the larger firm. 

Chidhakwa said that Zimbabwe reached the decision to semi-nationalize and consolidate the diamond mining companies that operate in the Marange  fields in response to  their failure to invest sufficiently in transitioning from alluvial production to kimberlite mining activities. He said that Zimbabwe has between 105 and 159 kimberlite pipes that haven't yet been properly explored for their diamond-bearing potential.

"We have told them, 'come, be a part of the company that will own all of the diamond resources in Zimbabwe,'" Chidhakwa said. He added, "Alluvial diamond mining [in the Marange] was just the beginning of a process. Zimbabwe will find its real place in the diamond industry from the kimberlites."

Other mining ministers from major African diamond mining countries sought to focus their rhetoric on the importance of Pan-African unity in utilizing the continent's natural resources for the betterment of its own people.

South Africa's  Mineral Resources Minister, Ngoako Ramatlhodi, praised a long and positive relationship between the United Arab Emirates and the black African leaders of southern Africa, dating back to the end of the colonial era. Ramatlhodi suggested that such historical ties  could foster Dubai's continued development as an important diamond trading center, sometimes referred to as the new "Silk Road" leading from Sub-Sahara Africa to South Asia and East Asia.

The conference, which will conclude on April 22, is also expected to address other major industry issues, such as undisclosed synthetics diamonds and tightening bank financing for diamantaires.

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Tags: Chidakwa, DMCC, Dubai Diamond Conference, Ronen Shnidman, Zimbabwe
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