Zimbabwe hopes to double diamond exports this year

Key diamond producer Zimbabwe has said it will more than double its exports of the precious gems in 2013.

StarAfrica.com reports that Goodwills Masimirembwa, chairman of the state-owned Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC) has said the African nation hopes to lift exports of diamonds to 16.7 million carats from eight million carats last year.

Diamond sources are a key source of revenue for Zimbabwe, netting revenue of $684.5 million last year.

Masimirembwa believes doubling of exports is a readily achievable goal, claiming sales last year were hampered by the United States' efforts to shut Zimbabwe out of the international diamond market by threatening purchasers.

"Last year sanctions were biting. The US threatened purchasers of Zimbabwe diamonds which resulted in low diamond sales in countries like India that normally buy from us," said Masimirembwa.

Zimbabwe's diamond industry has been fraught with controversy both domestically and internationally due to accusations of human rights abuses and corruption.

Finance minister Tendai Biti has accused diamond miners of failure to pay tax revenues in full to the authorities, claiming only $40 million out of an expected $600 million reached government coffers last year.