RAPAPORT… The World Diamond Council (WDC) welcomed an agreement ratified today by the members of the Kimberley Process at its plenary meeting in Kinshasa, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), during which rough diamond exports from two Kimberley Process-compliant operations in the Marange region of Zimbabwe will be permitted. Additionally, exports from other mining operations in the area will be allowed following the Kimberley Process monitoring team’s verification of compliance. The U.S. reportedly abstained from voting on the agreement. (Read the WDC statement.)
“This is a real milestone, and demonstrates categorically that the Kimberley Process provides the framework through which the integrity of the rough diamond chain of distribution can be protected, while at the same time enabling producing countries gain benefit from their natural resources,” said Eli Izhakoff, the president of the WDC.
“Congratulations and thanks are due to the European Union, for the critical role it played in proposing the agreement and bringing it to fruition. Credit also is due to Zimbabwe, the African nations led by the South Africa, the United States, and a host of individuals and delegates who put in long hours in negotiating the arrangement, which has escaped us for more than two years. It has been a long time in coming, and I fervently hope that it allows us to move both the Kimberley Process and the industry forward,” Izhakoff said.
The WDC confirmed, too, that this new agreement, endorsed to take immediate effect by the Kimberley Process plenary, enables the export of rough diamonds from the mining operations of Marange Resources and Mbada Diamonds. The plenary furthermore agreed that exports may take place from other mining operations in the Marange diamond fields, following verification of their compliance with the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme’s minimum requirements by the monitoring team, which will receive full access to the mining sites.
Within 14 days of this meeting, the monitoring team will visit Zimbabwe to examine whether a third mining operation in the area, Anjin, is compliant and thus is permitted to export diamonds. The team will pay a similar visit to another new mine within 14 days of receiving an invitation.
The WDC concluded that transparency of operations are a key element of the agreement, with compliant mining operations in the Marange region being required to share mine level data with the monitoring team on an ongoing basis. As part of the agreement, the Kimberley Process’s civil society coalition representatives in Zimbabwe will have access to the Marange area so as to allow continued reporting on implementation.
According to the agreement, the Kimberley Process monitoring team will include Abbey Chikane, a former chair of the Kimberley Process, and Mark Van Bockstael, the chair of the WDC’s technical committee. In the event that the two are unable to reach an agreement, the issue will be referred to the ”Working Group on Monitoring” to provide a recommendation to the Kimberley Process chair.
The WDC also confirmed that Zimbabwe committed to uphold the minimum requirements of the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme and will report to the current plenary and at the Kimberley Process intercessional meeting in 2012 on issues related to identification of further investors, the regulation of artisanal mining, the fight against illicit digging and smuggling.
The new agreement will remain under constant review and in effect until the Kimberley Process plenary meeting in 2012. As of press time, the plenary still has yet to elect a chair and vice chair for 2012.