August 16, 2010

Diamond dealer threatens traders over ban

A leading diamond trading network has barred its members from dealing with stones from Zimbabwe's Marange fields, saying their certification by global regulators did not guarantee they were free from human rights abuses.

The Kimberley Process (KP) certification scheme, set up to keep "blood diamonds" out of global gem trade, endorsed the sale of 900.000 carats from Zimbabwe's controversial Marange fields. Human rights activists have called for a ban on diamonds from Marange, where Zimbabwe's army is accused of widespread atrocities when it moved in to guard the poorly secured fields after a diamond rush drew up to 30.000 illegal diggers.
The United States-based Rapaport Diamond Trading Network said although the Marange diamonds had received KP endorsement, it will not allow its members to trade in them. "Members found to have knowingly offered Marange diamonds for sale on RapNet will be expelled and their names will be publicly communicated," it said in a statement.

Mines and Mining Development Minister Obert Mpofu said he was "not surprised at all" by this development. "You might be aware that America, the European Union and the United Kingdom have made every effort to make Zimbabwe fail," he said. "In any case, these countries do not constitute the entire market of diamonds. We will sell our stones to countries where they are welcome. "We have countries like Russia, China, India and other Asian countries where we can market our diamonds." India is currently the global diamond powerhouse.

Zimbabwe also auctioned off 893,000 carats of diamonds from the Marange region. Buyers from the United States, Lebanon, India, Israel and Russia attended the auction, which the government said boosted government’s income by around 71 million dollars. In 2009, the KP ordered Zimbabwe to suspend its diamond exports while it investigated conditions in Chiadzwa. After several visits to the area, and a partial withdrawal of the army, the KP has cleared the government to export the precious gems. (The Zimbabwe Guardian/SADOCC)

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