By SILUMESI MALUMO
OPERATIONS of emerald mines will be put on online mineral report ladder so that Government oversees exploration, production and auctioning, Minister of Mines and Mineral Development Richard Musukwa has said.
Mr Musukwa expressed concern that Government was not benefiting from emeralds because of illicit activities.
He said in an interview that Government wanted to ensure that stringent measures were put in place to stop illegality.
Mr Musukwa said the current situation in the sector promoted resource seepage and encouraged smuggling.
He was reacting to the call by Kagem Mine chief executive officer Sean Gilbertson to ban the open exports of emeralds as Government was losing huge sums of money through tax loss.
Mr Gilbertson said erratic pricing and valuation dictated by buyers disadvantaged the country from obtaining the best prices for the gemstones if auctioned locally.
He said in an interview that most export prices were set by the exporters in an “extremely dangerous practice” because emeralds prices varied one million times.
And Mr Musukwa said he had directed the ministry’s technical experts to ensure that emerald operations were put on online mineral reporting ladder so that government had oversight from exploration, production, processing and marketing with enhanced metallurgical oversights.
“I am sending experts to start the process immediately” he said.
Mr Musukwa said it was time Government stopped illicit activities and started earning much needed revenue from the sector.
The emerald sector had the potential to contribute to economic growth and job creation.
It was important that sanity prevailed.