HARARE London-based mining company African Consolidated Resources (ACR) last week warned international diamond traders against buying germs from Zimbabwes controversial Marange diamond field, saying they are stolen.
Reacting to an announcement by mining firm Mbada Diamonds of an auction later abandoned — of some 300 000 carats, ARC lawyer Jonathan Samkange said the precious stones the firm wanted to put under the hammer last Thursday were stolen diamonds.
Mbada Diamonds is a joint-venture between the governments Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC) and little-known South African company Core Mining, formed last year to work the Marange field that is also known as Chiadzwa.
Those are our diamonds. Anyone buying them must know that they are trading in stolen diamonds. We are placing an advert in the press to that effect, Samkange told ZimOnline.
The London Stock Exchange-listed company holds right of title to claims on the Marange diamond field that was seized by the Harare government in October 2006 and allocated to ZMDC.
The government also seized considerable quantities of diamonds from the ARC but was last year ordered by the High Court to return the diamonds to the UK firm. The court also upheld ARCs right of title to Marange in a judgment Harares contesting.
Last weeks diamond sale was aborted on instruction from the Ministry of Mines which accused Mbada Diamonds of failing to follow proper procedure by calling the auction before relevant government departments including the police had been informed.
In addition, Mines Ministry permanent secretary Thankful Musukutwa told journalists that Mbada had erred by attempting to auction diamonds from Marange without obtaining certification for the diamonds from the Kimberly Process (KP) which regulates the world diamond trade.
Under a set of measures meant to bring Zimbabwes controversial diamond industry in line with KP standards, the watchdog must monitor sales of diamonds from Marange.
Marange is one of the worlds most controversial diamond fields with reports that soldiers sent to guard the claims after the government took over committed gross human rights abuses including murder against illegal miners who had descended on the field following the expulsion of ACR.
International rights groups have been pushing for a ban on Zimbabwean diamonds.
In November, Zimbabwe escaped a KP ban despite calls for the country to be suspended over abuses in Marange, with the global body giving Harare a June 2010 deadline to make reforms to comply with its regulations.
The largest diamond mining company in Zimbabwe is Rio Tinto. Other players are Anglo-American and little known River Ranch mine.Post published in: Economy