De Beers Intends to Continue Banning Conflict Diamonds

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(Rapaport…April 18, 2000) In his chairman’s statement in the company’s annual report, Nicky Oppeneimer stated that De Beers intends to continue its policy of not marketing diamonds from war-torn African countries. According to Oppenheimer, diamonds from conflict areas such as Angola and Sierre Leone make up only about 3.8 percent of international production.

“Since the imposition of United Nations sanctions against the UNITA movement in Angola, De Beers has, at some considerable cost to itself, gone much further than the legal requirements to ensure that the diamonds it sells are from conflict-free regions,” he said. Oppenheimer said Botswana, Namibia and South Africa continue to produce nearly half the world’s annual diamond production by value. These countries are concerned about the potential threat that “conflict diamonds” from elsewhere in Africa pose to the well-regulated diamond industry and their own economies, he said. Oppenheimer said transparent and democratic regimes are pre-requisites for the orderly marketing of diamonds and urged Western governments to play a greater role in political transformation in Africa.

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