HARARE, Zimbabwe plans to resume auction of diamonds next month after having suspended sales in February last year following the merger in 2016 of companies previously operating in the Chiadzwa area of Marange in Manicaland Province into a single company, the Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company (ZCDC).

ZCDC Chief Executive Officer Dr Moris Mpofu is on record as saying sales had been stopped to allow the new company, in which the government is the major shareholder, to create an effective diamond sorting and evaluation system.

Mines and Mining Development Minister Winston Chitando has confirmed the impending auction, but did not divulge the amount of carats to be put up for sale. Statistics show that Zimbabwe's diamond production rose to 1.8 million carats last year, nearly double the 961,000 carats mined in 2016.

During 2017, no diamonds were sold. There will be a first batch which is due for sale in February, Chitando said Thursday.

Following the auction, a modus operandi which covers controls and accountability issues relating to future diamond sales, among other things, would be announced, he added.

Zimbabwe had pinned its hopes for enhanced economic revival and growth on diamonds, since their discovery in Chiadzwa more than a decade ago but with more than five companies having been licensed to mine the gems, the economy did not benefit from the mining activities with former President Robert Mugabe alleging that the country could have been prejudiced

of at least 15 billion US dollars in potential revenue.

The lack of transparency prompted the government to create the ZCDC in a bid to promote accountability in the sector.

In order to enhance earnings from the sector, the ZCDC has started work to mine conglomerate diamonds, which have more value than alluvial diamonds which were being mined since the discovery of the gems in Chiadzwa in 2006.

The ZCDC has also invested 80 million USD in exploration activities and purchasing equipment.