Zim­babwe be­gins sell­ing con­tro­ver­sial ‘blood’ di­a­monds

Min­ing firm says it is com­ply­ing with Kim­ber­ley Process

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - AUCTIONS -

ZIM­BABWE has be­gun auc­tion­ing di­a­monds from its con­tro­ver­sial Marange fields as the gov­ern­ment moves to curb il­le­gal trade and com­ply with in­ter­na­tional stan­dards.

Rights groups, which ac­cuse Zim­babwe’s se­cu­rity forces of com­mit­ting wide­spread atroc­i­ties in a bid to stop thou­sands of il­le­gal di­a­mond min­ers who have de­scended upon the poorly se­cured fields in the east of the coun­try, have been push­ing for a ban on Zim­bab­wean di­a­monds.

The Kim­ber­ley Process Cer­ti­fi­ca­tion Scheme – which reg­u­lates the global di­a­mond trade – voted in Novem­ber to al­low Zim­babwe to con­tinue min­ing and trad­ing in di­a­monds, but gave it only six months to im­prove the con­di­tions in Marange.

The gov­ern­ment, through its min­ing ar m, Zim­babwe Min­ing De­vel­op­ment Cor­po­ra­tion, has part­nered lit­tle­known South African com­pa­nies, Core Min­ing and Grandwell Hold­ings, in set­ting up Mbada Di­a­monds, which is min­ing di­a­monds in Marange.

The chair­man of Mbada Di­a­monds, Robert Mh­langa, told the state-con­trolled Her­ald news­pa­per that about 300 000 carats in di­a­monds would have been auc­tioned in Harare on Thurs­day.

In­ter­na­tional di­a­mond buy­ers from the Amer­i­cas, Europe, Asia and Africa would be tak­ing part in the auc­tion, Mh­langa was quoted say­ing.

“This in­au­gu­ral sale will be fol­lowed by a sale of an­other 300 000 carats, fol­low­ing about a month of min­ing op­er­a­tions at Mbada’s... Marange di­a­mond fields.”

The sec­ond sale would be held this week.

“The en­tire process of min­ing, trans­porta­tion and mar­ket­ing is be­ing done in com­pli­ance with the Kim­ber­ley Process.”

Up to 80 per­cent of the pro­ceeds from the di­a­mond sales would go to the gov­ern­ment in Harare, the Her­ald said.

The Marange di­a­mond fields are at the cen­tre of a le­gal dis­pute be­tween the Zim­babwe an gov­ern­ment and Lon­don-listed African Con­sol­i­dated Re­sources, whose claims were can­celled by the au­thor­i­ties in 2006.

The gov­ern­ment has ig­nored a high court or­der, is­sued last Septem­ber, that the Marange rights be re­stored to African Con­sol­i­dated Re­sources.

Other play­ers in Zim-babwe’s di­a­mond min­ing in­dus­try are Rio Tinto, whose Murowa field is the coun­try’s largest di­a­mond mine, and the pri­vately run River Ranch mine. – Reuters

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