Zimbabwe begins selling controversial ‘blood’ diamonds
Mining firm says it is complying with Kimberley Process
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