Kagem emerald mine in Lufwanyama

INTERNATIONAL – Gemstone mining firms in Zambia should consider holding mini auction sales for local buyers in order to allow them to participate in the buying of the green gems, an industry body said on Tuesday.

The Semi-Precious Stones Mining Association of Zambia president Victor Kalesha said many local cutters have been established but were not able to compete on major auction sales because it was competitive and expensive for them.

"It is in this regard that we request our major emerald producing companies to seriously consider our local people by giving them an opportunity to buy what they can afford at their own mini auctions," he said.

"The quality of cutting and polishing being done by Zambians has improved tremendously but they are starved of materials especially emeralds," he added.

According to him, a number of gemstone cutters across the country have been getting orders for cutting and polished emeralds but have nowhere to find them, adding that there was need for prioritize value addition in order to create job opportunities for local people.

He further said a gemstone and lapidary training school has been training quality students who unfortunately have not been able to find jobs after training because there were no materials to cut.

The association, he said, will engage the producing companies to see how best they can help local people as a way of promoting local value addition and urged the government to consider putting in place a conducive environment that will encourage local value addition to the country's gemstones.

XINHUA