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'Zim choice diamonds smuggled out via Mozambique'

Zimbabwe’s formally sold gems aren’t fetching a high price - between 38 and 78 US dollars per carat.

FILE: Questions have been raised as to how diamond companies operating in the Chiadzwa fields were selected and whether their mining practices are above board. Picture: www.petradiamonds.com

HAHARE, Zimbabwe - Zimbabwe State media is reporting that companies operating in the controversial Chiadzwa diamond fields are smuggling out choice gems while forwarding low-grade stones for auction.

Seven companies are currently mining in Chiadzwa in the east of the country but questions have been raised as to how they were selected and whether their mining practices are above board.

The Sunday Mail says that Zimbabwe has earned just 170 million US dollars from 2.5 million carats of diamonds sold formally on international markets in Dubai and Antwerp.

That sum means that Zimbabwe's gems aren't fetching a high price between 38 and 78 US dollars per carat.

A mining official has claimed that some companies aren't remitting the high-grade stones.

He says they're working with Indian, Israeli and Lebanese middlemen who base themselves in neighbouring Mozambique and facilitate the smuggling of gems.

The state receives a percentage in royalties from the sale of the Chiadzwa diamonds, so lower prices from the auctions mean less money for the government, which is in desperate need of funds.

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