Zimbabwe the World's Top Diamond Producer?

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"Marange discovery propels Zimbabwe from 12th place to 1st."

Zimbabwe will become the world's top producer of diamonds following the discovery of the gem in the Marange area of the eastern province of Manicaland within the next five years, an expert has said.

Zimbabwe was on its way to toppling countries such as Russia, Botswana and South Africa as the top diamond producer, International diamond consultant Fillipe van Laere said on the sidelines of a ceremony to mark the establishment of the Zimbabwe Diamond Technology Centre (ZDTC).

Van Laere, who is based in Belgium, has been in Zimbabwe for close to a year assisting the country to meet requirements of the international diamond watchdog, the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS).

The KPCS last month granted Zimbabwe permission to sell diamonds from the Marange diamond fields following a protracted battle between the country and western countries such as the United States and Australia which were against selling of the gems, labeling them "blood diamonds."

"Until very recently, Zimbabwe was a secondary player in the international diamond business. If you look at the statistics in 2008-2009, they show that Zimbabwe was in 12th position, however with the new diamond finds in Chiadzwa whose production can reach 40 million carats per year and USD 2 billion per year in revenue.

"Zimbabwe is simply propelled to the number one spot as the world's most important diamond producer in the next two or three years," said van Laere.

He added that it was crucial for Zimbabwe to establish two more well equipped diamond mining companies to boost production of the gems. There are four companies involved in diamond mining at the moment.

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