ESMAZ president Victor Kalesha said Zambians are unable to compete on the major auction sales and that they should be given an opportunity to buy what they can afford at their own mini auctions.
“We have of late seen that Zambians are coming up in value addition to our gemstones but unfortunately, they are unable to compete on the major auctions sales conducted by Kagem and Grizzly Mining because it’s very competitive and expensive for them. It is in this regard that we request our major emerald producing companies like Grizzly, Kagem and Tubombeshe mining to seriously consider our local people by giving them an opportunity to buy what they can afford at their own mini auctions. The quality of cutting and polishing being done by Zambians has improved tremendously but they are starved of material especially emeralds,” Kalesha said.
He urged producing companies to streamline auctions to the locals because they cannot compete with giant buyers at major auctions.
“We have a couple of cutters across the country who get orders for cut and polished emeralds but they have nowhere to find them. As an association, we feel promotion of value addition should be paramount so as to create local job opportunities for the locals as well as wealthy for the nation,” Kalesha said.
He disclosed that ESMAZ has a ‘very important school’ in Ndola, the Gemstone and lapidary school, training quality students who lack jobs after graduating because there is no material to cut.
“We will engage the producing companies to see how best they can help our local people as a way of promoting local value addition. We also urge government to consider putting in place a conducive environment that will encourage local value addition to our gemstones. We have always been proposing that we have a certain percentage of gemstones not exported but used locally for value addition,” said Kalesha.