Former MMCZ Mineral evaluator/ Gemologist Eng Clever Sithole officially opened the Silk Road Heart Gemmological Laboratory & Lapidary Centre in Afghanistan recently.
The Silk Road Heart Gemmological Laboratory and Lapidary Centre is the flagship centre for value addition and beneficiation of gemstones produced in Afghanistan. The centre is a specialised centre that unlocks true value from gemstones, curbs under-declaration and smuggling of gems.
It is based in Kabul, and Engineer Clever Sithole is the Head Gemologist for the facility. The facility is the first in Central/ South Asia. It will be involved in the training of Afghan nationals to conduct cutting and polishing of gemstones as well as certification of gemstones according to international standards.
According to Eng. Sithole, the facility will be obtaining international accreditation and will be implementing the latest technologies such as blockchain tracing of gemstones from mine to market. Blockchain traceability will ensure responsible and sustainable sourcing of gemstones from mining up to consumers.
The laboratory has the latest scientific technologies for gemstones analysis, grading and certification.
Speaking to Mining Zimbabwe Eng Sithole said there are myriad benefits for Zimbabwe to set up a similar laboratory. Sithole said Zimbabwe will obtain international accreditation which will enable the country to certify coloured stones and diamonds from across the region.
“Setting up a Gemmological Laboratory and Lapidary Centre brings a lot of advantages for the country. The centre is a specialised centre that unlocks true value from gemstones, curbs under-declaration and smuggling of gems. Its advantages are as follows:-
1. It will open up opportunities in terms of value addition and beneficiation of gemstones for the country.
2. Create employment opportunities in lapidary and jewellery craftsmanship
3. accurate grading, pricing and valuation of coloured stones and diamonds.
4. The centre can also obtain international accreditation which enables it to certify coloured stones and diamonds from other sources within the region such as Mozambique, South Africa, Angola, Lesotho and Namibia,” said Sithole.
Already, Eng. Sithole has been co-opted into the Afghan government’s semi-precious committee in charge of reforming the exports policy under the Vice President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.
Among its successes, the committee has done tremendous work in terms of implementing ease of doing business reforms that will enable simple ways of exporting gemstones. An Afghan gemstones conference and buyers meeting will be held in Dubai in July 2021.
Engineer Clever Sithole is a Mining Engineer and Advanced Scientific Gemologist trained by institutes in the USA, UK, Belgium, India, Dubai (U.A.E), Switzerland, Israel, South Africa and Spain.
He worked for the MMCZ for 13 years involved in gemstones and diamonds valuations amongst other duties. The centre is a specialised centre that unlocks true value from gemstones, curbs under-declaration and smuggling of gems.