Zimbabwe Proposes Diamond Act to Give State Control

140 95 Rapaport News

RAPAPORT… A special meeting of the Working Group for Monitoring (WGM) of the Kimberley Process (KP) failed to reach an agreement concerning rough exports from Marange. The meeting in Brussels, boycotted by Zimbabwe, was further complicated by the reported sale of approximately $160 million in Marange rough to four Indian buyers that was certified by Abbey Chikane, the KP monitor for Zimbabwe — but without the WGM’s consent.

On January 1, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) assumed the role of KP chair, taking over from Israel. At press time, a DRC spokesperson refuted a claim made on the website ZimOnline that the KP informed the government that it approved the sale of Marange diamonds.

According to World News Connection, Zimbabwe claims to have met all Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) requirements. Speaking to a Norwegian delegation, Mines and Mining Development Secretary Thankful Musukutwa asserted, “We are very compliant and have done more than other countries.” He said that nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and hostile nations would not stop diamond sales. While acknowledging “a few problems with the KPCS,” he dismissed alleged human rights abuses.

Tendai Biti, the country’s finance minister, reported that Zimbabwe exported $596.2 million in platinum, $304.8 million in gold and $126 million in diamonds from January through November 2010. Biti noted that only $32 million from the two diamond sales conducted in 2010 was transferred to the Treasury.

A proposed Zimbabwe Diamond Act would give the state exclusive ownership of alluvial diamond rights; establish criteria for the selection of mining partners; set share contributions made by the mining partners; create a Diamond Regulation Framework and define policing and anti-smuggling standards.

Mining Firms Face New Restrictions

The Financial Gazette reported that Zimbabwe ordered local diamond mining firms to sell through an auction system. This follows a Cabinet decision limiting all alluvial diamond mining to the government. Industry sources believe the latest action will allow the Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe (MMCZ) to closely monitor sales. The MMCZ falls under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development and has been sanctioned by the U.S. and European Union (EU).

According to the Zimbabwe Independent, Obert Mpofu, the country’s mines minister, said the government would revoke African Consolidated Resources’ (ACR) licenses because of irregularities that existed when they were issued. However, ACR’s legal counsel, Jonathan Samikange, responded that only the mining commission has the legal standing to cancel the licenses. 

KP Support Remains Strong

Worldwide support continues for the KP. The United Arab Emirates’ (UAE) KP office issued a statement to diamond traders saying that it will not accept rough diamonds from Marange until a full consensus has been reached. The Gem & Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC) announced that it supports India’s decision to block the trade of Zimbabwe diamonds since those stones could eventually end up in the U.S., U.K. and Australia.

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