New diamond polishing plant in SA

Currently, only 2 percent of local diamonds are processed in South Africa. But that is now set to change.
 Currently, only 2% of local diamonds are processed in S..
Currently, only 2 percent of local diamonds are processed in South Africa. But that is now set to change.

Mcebisi Jonas of the Eastern Cape’s Department of Economic Development and Environmental Affairs, said: “While South Africa remains a leading diamond producer, there is very little local polishing of rough stones. The bulk of these are exported for further polishing in countries such as India and China.”

The plant, which cost R102 million and is equipped with Chinese technology worth R35 million, will go a long way in increasing the South Africa’s competitiveness in the diamond-polishing industry.

As a joint venture between Matla Beneficiation Company, the East London Industrial Development Zone, the Industrial Development Corporation and Gold Eastern Holdings of China, the automated plant is expected to be eight times more efficient than a similar-sized manual operation.


Mineral Resources Minister Susan Shabangu said: “As a department, we want value added to our raw materials, making sure that our people get jobs and contribute to the economic activity of the country.”

The plant will produce a maximum of 20,000 carats a month, which translates to monthly revenue of R100 million, said Matla Group Executive Chairperson, Zwelakhe Sisulu.


Matla Group CEO, Chia-Chao Wu, said the company plans to train 150-200 South Africans to become cutters and polishers.

So far, 25 Eastern Cape-based previously disadvantaged people are employed at the plant. 120 more skilled job opportunities are expected to be created over the next two years and a further 500 in the next five years.

“I’d like to see this process of training translated into professionalism – a professionalism where these young people will be able one day to open their own factories,” Shabangu said.

“We really are going with great gusto into what we see as the knowledge economy, because in the world now, if you want to be competitive you have to have knowledge, skill and discipline as the basis,” Sisulu said.

Edited by Chris Farnell

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