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Arab billionaires target Zimbabwe diamonds

A group of Middle East and Asian billionaires has given strong indications that they intend to invest in the country’s diamond sector following projections that Zimbabwe has up to 1,8 million hectares of unexploited diamond reserves.

Diamond experts have already hinted that Zimbabwe gems will double world diamond supply by 2015 since Marange precious stones continue to attract some of the biggest players in world diamond trade.

The billionaires include Dubai Multi-Commodities Centre (DMCC) executive chairman Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem, who has close links with the super-rich Al Maktoum royal family of the United Arab Emirates as well as members of India’s “diamantries”, who are a clique of the richest diamond dealers in the world.

In an interview last week, ZMDC chairman Mr Godwills Masimirembwa confirmed negotiations with the potential investors had already opened.

“We are indeed holding negotiations with the investors from the Emirates although negotiations are still at an early stage,” he said.

Mr Masimirembwa said the possibility of huge unexploited diamond reserves in Marange is high.

“We estimate that there are up to 1,8 million hectares of unexploited diamond reserves.

“This is why we need investment to tap this resource,” he said.

Speaking on the sidelines of the Zimbabwe Diamond Conference 2012 held in Victoria Falls recently, Ahmed Sultan Bin Sulayem revealed that his organisation was keen on investing in a new concession in Marange.

“The DMCC is a coalition of several members and quite a number have indicated that they want to invest in Zimbabwe’s diamond sector.

“Talks are still at an early stage, but these investors are some of the richest people in the mining sector.

“We are also willing to assist Zimbabwe in their trade of diamonds.

“That is why we are holding regular talks with the Zimbabwe authorities,” he said.

Bin Sulayem said the sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe had scared away investors from the Emirates.

“It is only that the issue of sanctions imposed on the diamond companies has created logistical problems for some of our partners within DMCC.

“You know, investors are very sensitive about issues such as sanctions.

“Therefore, some members within DMCC are adopting a wait-and-see approach.

“However, we are facilitating the free trade of diamonds from Marange to the Emirates because

Zimbabwe has become one of the major players in the diamond industry.”

The Sulayem family has been one of Dubai’s most prominent business families since the early 20th century.

Media reports indicate the majority of the members of DMCC comprises renowned companies dealing in gold, diamonds and other precious minerals.

Chairman of the Gem and Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC) Mr Vipul Shah said council members were targeting partnerships in diamond cutting and polishing.

GJPEC has over 6 500 members - Sunday Mail.

“There are high hopes in Mumbai where big players in the cutting and polishing industry want to invest in Zimbabwe and also bring expertise to the mining sector.

“Some of our members have already started holding talks with our Zimbabwe counterparts,” said Mr Shah.