Antwerp wants 12 million carats

The Antwerp World Diamond Centre wants to sell 12 million carats of diamonds from Zimbabwe this year, which would make the country one of the six biggest suppliers to the Belgian-based trading group. Zimbabwe has conducted two auctions at Antwerp. In December last year it realised $10.5 million (R112m) from sales of 279 723 carats and in February it raised $70m from 959 931 carats, according to the Zimbabwean ministry of mines. The centre had also proposed a memorandum of understanding with the government to clean and sort diamonds, leading to the creation of a hub in the country, chief executive Ari Epstein said last week in Harare. Diamonds are becoming an increasingly important source of revenue for the government after the EU lifted sanctions on the Marange fields in September last year. – Bloomberg


‘Germans plan sugar refinery’

Germany’s second-largest sugar refiner, Nordzucker, was planning to build a sugar refinery in Zambia at a cost of about $300 million (R3.2 billion), the Hannoverische Allegmeine Zeitung newspaper reported yesterday. The plant would produce raw sugar. Plans were at an advanced stage and had been sent to the company’s advisory board, the report said. It was part of Nordzucker’s strategy to expand outside Europe as it would be too difficult to get competition approval for takeovers of European sugar producers, the report said. A Nordzucker spokeswoman said the company had no immediate comment. – Reuters


Pipeline leak slows exports

Shell had halted crude exports from a key terminal in southern Nigeria because of a leak in a supply pipeline, the Anglo-Dutch oil major said yesterday. Shell said its Nigerian subsidiary, SPDC, was working to repair a leak on one of its pipelines under the sea from its Forcados oil terminal. “The line was immediately shut down when we observed the leak on March 4,” Shell said, without disclosing the volume of crude exports affected. With a daily capacity of 400 000 barrels of crude, Forcados is one of Nigeria’s main export terminals. Nigeria produces about 2 million barrels of crude daily. – Sapa-AFP


Kwacha hits record low

Zambia’s kwacha hit a record low of 6.10 to the dollar yesterday, extending recent losses, which the central bank blames on falling copper prices and foreign investor jitters at the prospect of monetary tightening by the US Federal Reserve. Zambia’s central bank has said it would continue to intervene to stabilise the kwacha, in an attempt to calm a foreign exchange market it previously described as gripped by panic. Analysts said government borrowing was also putting pressure on the currency. “The large budget deficit, financed by borrowing from the banking system and planned external borrowing, is also fuelling high domestic and import demand, and probably contributing in this way to the depreciation,” the Economics Association of Zambia said. – Reuters