Marange’s diamonds not for export – diamond council

JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) – In the midst of reports indicating that Zimbabwe has received the green light to export rough diamonds from the Marange fields, the World Diamond Council (WDC) has urged members of the international diamond industry to refrain from trading in and exporting goods from Marange.\r\n

The council said that it had been widely reported that Kimberley Process (KP) chairperson Mathieu Yamba recently issued a statement that deferred discussion on unresolved issues to the Working Group on Monitoring, but [in the meantime] permitted Zimbabwe to export rough diamond shipments from the two official concessions in the Marange region, subject to oversight by the appointed Monitor.

Media reports quoted a letter in which Yamba said: "With immediate effect, Zimbabwe is hereby authorised to resume exports from the compliant mining operations of Mbada and Canadile.”

Mbada Diamonds and Canadile Miners are two companies in joint ventures with the State’s Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation.

Nongovernmental organisation Global Witness campaigner Elly Harrowell told Mining Weekly Online that this decision made by Yamba is ‘worrying’.

“We hope he will retract it. All KP decision-making is governed by the principle of consensus, but the chairperson appears to have disregarded this to unilaterally push through a decision that goes against the wishes of numerous KP members. This sets a dangerous precedent, which could have serious repercussions for the future of the scheme.

“It could also have grave consequences for efforts to combat abuse and illegality in Zimbabwe’s Marange diamond fields – if the decision stands, it would allow massive diamond exports with little or no oversight by the anti-blood diamond scheme,” said the London-based Harrowell.

Global Witness director Charmian Gooch previously said that disputed diamonds from Marange posed a real threat to the integrity of the diamond supply chain. “By refusing to buy these stones, the industry could reinforce the strength and credibility of the KP, and chart a path to a satisfactory agreement on Marange diamonds.”

In February, the WDC said that through prescribed procedure, member governments of the KP gave their agreement to a document that would allow for the recommencement of exports from approved concessions in the Marange region.

As outlined in the document, this approval is subject to agreement on continued oversight and monitoring.

“Before exports could resume, however, the authorities in Zimbabwe needed to complete a series on consultations with Yamba, representing the Democratic Republic of Congo.”

The WDC said on Wednesday, that KP participant countries, including the US, Canada, Israel and the European Union were seeking clarity on procedural issues surrounding this document, and have indicated that exports should not be permitted until the issues have been resolved and explained.

“The WDC would like to assure all parties involved that it retains at their disposal to lend assistance and contribute to any initiative that will resolve outstanding issues, while protecting the credibility of the KP.”

The KP annual plenary meeting, in Jerusalem, last year ended without agreement on Marange following four days of negotiations.

“Restrictions on the export of stones from the diamond fields in eastern Zimbabwe have been in place for the past year [2010] under the terms of a ‘Joint Work Plan’ agreed between the KP and the Zimbabwean government. The restrictions were imposed following the killing of over two hundred miners, in Marange, by the Zimbabwean security forces, in late 2008 and patterns of violence and smuggling that persisted thereafter,” Global Witness said.