Zambia: ‘Diversify Gemstone Auctioning’

THE Emerald and Semi-Precious Stones Association of Zambia (ESMAZ) has called for diversified gemstone auctioning to unlock the potential of the natural resource.

ESMAZ vice-treasurer Moffat Mukwala said big gemstone mining firms were ignoring western markets to their disadvantage.

“We don’t see companies exploiting markets like the United States of America (USA), Canada and Switzerland’s Geneva yearning for more gemstone auctioning which might be more viable than the Singapore markets,” Mr Mukwala said.

He said this during the launch of Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) in Kitwe at the weekend.

He said the next big revenue for the country should come from gemstones looking at the potential the country had.

Mr Mukwala accused large gemstone operators in the country of collusion to wipe out small dealers by refusing partnerships while preferring buy-offs.

“Partnerships between big gemstone mines and the small scale has been difficult because it’s like they want to remain in business by buying off most of the licences instead of partnering with the local dealers and run the mines alongside,” he said.

With enough capital, Mr Mukwala was confident that the gemstones’ contribution to the treasury could surpass that of copper because the value of gemstones such as emeralds had not been affected by low global prices of minerals.

He also accused big players in the emerald industry of under-reporting.

“We need to put in mechanisms to monitor mining houses from production to marketing levels so that the country knows the true picture about the production values of minerals,” Mr Mukwala said.

Source: The Times of Zambia.