Di­a­mond ex­ports re­sume

The East African - - FRONT PAGE - By VIC­TOR KIPROP Spe­cial Cor­re­spon­dent

Pet≥a’s Wil­liamson mine, which was shut down in valu­a­tion dis­pute, opens

PE­TRA DI­A­MONDS is set to re­sume sell­ing and ex­port­ing min­er­als from its Wil­liamson mine in Tan­za­nia that the com­pany shut down two weeks ago amid an ex­port valu­a­tion dis­pute with the Tan­za­nia gov­ern­ment.

In a state­ment is­sued by the com­pany, Pe­tra said it is fi­nal­is­ing the tim­ing and process for the next di­a­mond ship­ment to its mar­ket­ing of­fice in An­twerp, Bel­gium, and sub­se­quent sales.

The an­nounce­ment gives a new lease of life to the strug­gling miner that is bat­tling to stay afloat in Tan­za­nia’s min­ing in­dus­try where there has been a crack­down on com­pa­nies by Pres­i­dent John Magu­fuli’s ad­min­is­tra­tion.

How­ever the firm is yet to reach a deal with the gov­ern­ment on a con­tro­ver­sial di­a­mond ship­ment that was blocked by au­thor­i­ties from go­ing to An­twerp ear­lier this month.

“A res­o­lu­tion has not yet been reached with re­gards to the par­cel of 71,654.45 carats from Wil­liamson that was blocked for ex­port. The com­pany will pro­vide an up­date on this as soon as prac­ti­ca­ble,” Pe­tra said in its state­ment.

Seized gems

The Tan­za­nian gov­ern­ment seized the di­a­monds on Au­gust 31 at the Julius Ny­erere In­ter­na­tional Air­port in Dar es Salaam and be­gan in­ves­ti­ga­tions into “cer­tain key per­son­nel” claim­ing that the min­er­als had been mas­sively un­der-de­clared.

“While Wil­liamson Di­a­monds de­clared in its doc­u­men­ta­tion that the value of the Di­a­monds was $14.798 mil­lion, a fresh valu­a­tion done by the gov­ern­ment es­tab­lished the ac­tual value of di­a­monds is $29.5 mil­lion,” said a state­ment by the Tan­za­nia’s Min­istry of Fi­nance and Plan­ning.

Pe­tra de­nied the claims, say­ing that the Tan­za­nian gov­ern­ment “has com­plete over­sight over the di­a­monds pro­duced at the mine which are phys­i­cally con­trolled by a number of dif­fer­ent gov­ern­ment rep­re­sen­ta­tives in con­junc­tion with Pe­tra from the point of re­cov­ery un­til the point of sale”.

In early Septem­ber Pres­i­dent Magu­fuli called for a re­view of Pe­tra’s con­tract, and asked se­nior public of­fi­cials to re­sign af­ter a par­lia­men­tary probe into the coun­try’s min­ing sec­tor in­di­cated that there were “gross ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties” in the di­lu­tion of the gov­ern­ment’s share­hold­ing in the Wil­liamson mine.

Two se­nior of­fi­cials, a min­is­ter and a deputy min­is­ter were im­pli­cated in the re­port, and they re­signed to pave way for in­ves­ti­ga­tions.

The Wil­liamson mine ac­counted for 18 per cent of Pe­tra’s rev­enues in 2016. The mine is 75 per cent Pe­tra-owned, while the Tan­za­nian gov­ern­ment owns the re­main­ing 25 per cent.

Pic­ture: File

A di­a­mond mine in South Africa. Pe­tra Di­a­monds is set to re­sume its op­er­a­tions in Tan­za­nia.

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