Milovanovic succeeded Mathieu Yamba of Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), who faced criticism last year for unilaterally pushing for Zimbabwe’s clearance for resumption of rough diamond sales despite opposition from KP member countries from the West.
“There is an urgent need to redefine the term ‘conflict diamond,’ said Milovanovic, speaking to TOI. “I consider Zimbabwe diamonds as ‘products under sanction,'” she added.
After a two-day visit to the diamond factories and meeting industry stakeholders, Milovanovic hinted at some changes in the core objectives and definition of ‘conflict diamond’.
The $43 billion worth of Indian gems and jewellery industry celebrated KP’s decision to approve two mining companies – Mbada and Marange resources – to export diamonds from the controversial Marange diamond field in November 2011. The long pending KP approval to Zimbabwe was seen as a key decision to end the shortage of rough diamonds in the world market.
However, the US government shocked the Indian diamond industry by imposing sanctions on the same mines approved to export rough diamonds from Zimbabwe in December 2011.
Zimbabwe gems, believed to constitute 25 per cent of the world diamond deposits or about $4 billion worth of annual production, are in high demand in India as they are low priced compared to gems available from other mining countries. But, the diamond companies in the country are wary of exposing their links with Zimbabwe following the US sanctions on Zimbabwe diamond mines. The US-based Rapaport group, which has more than 10,000 diamond traders across the world as its trading members, banned Zimbabwe diamonds by stating that companies continuing to trade in diamonds from Marange field would be expelled from the trade group.
Industry sources said the smooth flow of Zimbabwe diamonds in the country is set to create tens of thousands of new employment. But, the US sanctions on Zimbabwe and the new KP chair’s views on Zimbabwe are likely to create problems in the coming days.
“She is not clear on her stand on Zimbabwe. She is KP chair and should take her own decision for the overall health of global diamond industry. Being the world’s biggest rough diamond consuming industry, we will continue to advocate in favour of Zimbabwe,” a top functionary ofGems and Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC) said.