Diamond ban puts investors off

diamonds_marangeJOHANNESBURG Diamonds produced from Zimbabwes controversial Marange area are still a big problem for the rough-diamond industry, following the recent failure of talks aimed at the Kimberley Process approval for exports from Zimbabwe to resume. (Pictured: There are fears that diamond

The Kimberly Process Certification Scheme (KPCS), an eight-year-old United Nations-backed international body founded to prevent the trade in diamonds mined under conflict conditions, said it had banned Zimbabwe from exporting diamonds from Marange, in the countrys eastern province of Manicaland.

However, an official from Tacy Ltd. Diamond Industry Consultants, a specialty strategic consultancy house and think-tank exclusively serving the stakeholders in the international diamond industry, said this week that Zimbabwean authorities could be clandestinely selling the controversial gemstones, adding that this was one of the major challenges facing the industry in its bid to clear its reputation.

Blood diamonds

Tacy president, Chaim Evan-Zohar, said while addressing a Mining Indaba in Cape Town that, while Zimbabwe diamonds might still not be officially exported from Zimbabwe in accordance with Kimberley Process principles, unofficial sales were continuing.

When we recently celebrated 10 years of the Kimberley Process, we believed that the blood diamond issue and other reputation issues were behind this industry, but that seems not to be now, said Evan-Zohar.

It looks like we are now back in a political quagmire. The Zimbabwe diamonds are not blood diamonds. The mines are modern and they are well managed, but theyre apparently in the wrong political system.

Evan-Zohar said that the diamond industry could not afford to leave the Zimbabwe issue unsolved as it would affect the industrys reputation.

Its a balancing act. Were facing the hour of truth. I believe that the immediate challenge is to avoid politicising the industrys regulatory environment, which would endanger the inclusiveness of global diamond trade and result in smuggling and other undesirable outcomes.

The diamond consultant said that, while the supply and demand fundamentals looked good, the diamond industry had become vulnerable to outside shocks.

Surats uncertain future

Meanwhile, an Indian company, Surat Rough Diamond Sourcing India Limited (SRDSIL), which is a consortium formed last summer aimed at directly sourcing rough diamonds, this week questioned its future with Zimbabwe.

The diamond consortium was created to facilitate Surat’s direct access to rough diamonds, specifically from Marange. In October last year, the SRDSIL signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Zimbabwean government, which would facilitate the exchange of a regular supply of rough diamonds worth US$1.2 billion a year for training Zimbabweans in diamond processing. The MoU was signed in the presence of Zimbabwe’s mines and minerals minister, Obert Mpofu, and senior officials from the Zimbabwe government, but never came to fruition, leading the SRDSIL’s founding members making an appeal to Gujarat’s Minister of State for Industries, Saurabh Patel, for help in securing the direct sourcing of rough supply.

One of the founding directors of SRDSIL and chairman of Sanghavi Exports, Chandrakant Sanghavi, said early this week that the KPs continuing stalemate with Zimbabwe was adversely affecting the consortium.

“The KP’s stalemate on rough diamond export from Zimbabwe still continues and thus we have no other option but to wait and watch, said Sanghavi.

Indications are that many Indian and international diamond dealers who had previously shown interest in becoming members of the new consortium have since started backing off due to the continuation of the KP ban on Zimbabwe and that promoters of SRDSIL were being told to forget about Zimbabwe and look for direct supplies from other African countries.

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