(Rapaport…December 5, 2001) South African Mineral and Energy Minister Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka said a new bill, due next June, will introduce tougher background checks on those applying for exploration licenses and mining permits in South Africa. Companies involved in the trade of conflict diamonds would be barred from receiving their licenses or permits or have them revoked if they have already been issued.
Mlambo-Ngcuka announced the new bill in Johannesburg after returning from the latest round of Kimberley Process talks held in Botswana late last month. The minister said the United Nation’s General Assembly is expected to ratify an agreement reached by participants at the talks when it meets later this month. She addressed concerns that the agreement could violate World Trade Organization (WTO) rules, saying the WTO provides for exceptions in cases where human rights are at risk.