Angola’s ASCORP Losing its Grip

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(Rapaport… May 4, 2003) Angolan government has approved changes to its diamond sector including ending the four-year-old monopoly of state-controlled diamond marketing firm, ASCORP, Reuters reports.

Foreign mining companies, including ALROSA and De Beers, have been keen to return to Angola since a ceasefire in April 2002 ended the 27-year civil war between the Government and UNITA rebels, who funded their campaign partly through sales of conflict diamonds.

According to Noe Mateus, spokesman for state diamond firm Endiama, the creation of ASCORP by the government was “an exceptional policy to combat blood diamonds. Now the country is at peace and has normalized, the Angolan diamond market can be reopened.”

ASCORP will now retain the right to buy diamonds produced in the informal sector by miners and small producers, but will compete with other private companies for this market. A system, yet to be defined, will control the sales of these diamonds onto the international market. State-owned company SODIAM, which has 51 percent control of ASCORP, will take over the marketing of gems produced by larger producers in the formal sector, but will do so in partnership with local and foreign companies, creating a semi-open market regulated by the state.

In its first move to end the ASCORP monopoly and add value to the local diamond industry, the government approved a plan on April 25, 2003, to build a new cutting factory within three years at a cost of more than $5 million. According to Mateus, “It will create an internal market for cut diamonds, Angolans will get specialized training, which will create an industry of Angolan diamond cutting,”

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