Harare: Zimbabwe's Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa announced Wednesday that the government will slash licence fees for diamond cutters and polishers as the current fees pegged at $100,000 are prohibitively high.
"The fees are going to go down. I cannot give you specifically what the amounts are going to be but clearly we want them to be affordable to the new incoming players," Xinhua quoted Chinamasa as saying in parliament.
Diamond mining has fueled the country's economic growth since 2009. Last year, Zimbabwe produced 11 million carats of diamond and the government targets to raise the output to 12 million carats in 2014. But most of the diamond is exported unpolished, affecting the gem's price on the international market.
The average price for Zimbabwean gems recently auctioned on either Dubai or Antwerp floor was below $76 per carat. The government has called for retched-up efforts to boost the value addition of the minerals as one of the focuses of the five-year plan for economic recovery.
Besides raising the value of diamond, officials say the diamond cutting and polishing industry is expected to create about 100,000 new jobs. The government last week gazetted regulations authorising local diamond miners to reserve 10 percent of their output to be cut and polish locally before selling them to international buyers.
Zimbabwe's major diamond mines are all located in the eastern Marange region, where the reserve is estimated around 16.5 million tonnes.