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TOWARDS CONSOLIDATING MINERAL AESTHETICS IN MASHONALAND

Hurungwe District CEO, Luke Kalavina lamented the illicit trade of gemstones in the sector as truckloads are departing the country with no returns realized.

“As much as 15 truckloads of gemstones could depart from a community at any given time, yet this might not benefit the country in any way as they are shipped out illicitly. What we remain with is environmental degradation as there are no returns for the council. However if we address this, we will be able to improve the standards of living for our communities and improve infrastructure in the district. We also need to look at the value chain and establish viable market linkages. As council, we are also going to establish a gemstone value Centre to improve the value of our diamonds,” he said.

_(Bulawayo)_ The little-known Gemstone subsector is in quandary as it has no specific legal or policy framework to guide operations therein, _Humanitarian Eye_ has learnt.

Speaking at the ongoing Zimbabwe Alternative Mining Indaba, in a side session on illicit flows in the gemstone mining sector, researcher Farai Mutondori said the Minerals Marketing Authority of Zimbabwe (MMCZ)  committed to developing a legal framework for the sector early this year. *However nothing has materialized to date.*

He further noted how women miners were being marginalised in the sector owing to a myriad of challenges including financial constraints, gender discrimination and infidelity fears.

“Gemstone mining by nature discriminates against women as it is capital intensive. Furthermore, women are marginalized as they are deemed weak when it comes to physical manpower. Even if they overcome all these challenges, there are fears of infidelity from their partners which prevents them from participating in the sector. Gemstone are primarily sold at Karoi hotel, very few men would allow their wives to go to a hotel to sell gemstones,” he said.

Speaking at the same event, Zimbabwe Miners Federation National Executive Secretary, Privelage Moyo said gemstones are currently being sold for a song in Zimbabwe as there is no clearly defined value chain

“The value of our stones is still at the mercy of the purchaser as there is no defined local market in Zimbabwe whereby our miners may have access to market indicative prices. Due to lack of a legal framework and markets, the environment creates a haven for unscrupulous traders who have been fleecing the foreign and local buyers with fake gemstones, some being synthetics,” he said

Moyo said the sector urgently needs skills training and gemology laboratories so as to be at par with the international colored stones industry..

In a plenary discussion, female gemstone miner, Blessing Hungwe hailed ZELA and AAZ for exposure and training on gemstone mining and urged the Organisations to redouble their efforts for the benefit of all women in mining.

Magunje MP, Cecil Kashiri said he would push for a gemstone mining policy, he also called for comprehensive prospecting of gemstones in the country so as to attract investors.

Hurungwe North MP, Ability Gandawa said women need tailor-made flexible financing with adequate grace periods to spur their operations as they cannot borrow from local financial institutions that are too demanding.

Responding to an announcement that the Zimbabwe School of mines is currently developing a gemology center in Mutare, Extractives consultant Motive Mungoni urged the school to take the training center to Hurungwe where it is needed most.

Most of the gems are found in Mashonaland West around Hurungwe and Karoi. If you look at the geology in Mutare, it is mostly rough diamonds, gem-quality diamonds are few and scattered all over the country. So I would suggest that the school be strategically moved to Mashonaland West,” he said.

Hurungwe District CEO, Luke Kalavina lamented the illicit trade of gemstones in the sector as truckloads are departing the country with no returns realized.

“As much as 15 truckloads of gemstones could depart from a community at any given time, yet this might not benefit the country in any way as they are shipped out illicitly. What we remain with is environmental degradation as there are no returns for the council. However if we address this, we will be able to improve the standards of living for our communities and improve infrastructure in the district. We also need to look at the value chain and establish viable market linkages. As council, we are also going to establish a gemstone value Centre to improve the value of our diamonds,” he said.

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