EU delegation to visit Marange diamond fields

The European Union (EU) delegation to Zimbabwe will on 25 to 27 June, 2012 visit the marange diamond fields for the first time on a familiarisation tour, Head of Delegation, Aldo Dell' Ariccia said.

Ariccia said that the Minister of Mines and Mining Development, Obert Mpofu invited the EU delegation last year to carry out a familiarisation tour of the diamond fields.

"We could not visit the diamond mines last year due to timing difficulties, but as of now we have agreed as a union on suitable dates and we are going on with the tour," Ariccia said.

He added that it is a normal task of all heads of delegations to carry out such visits to acquire a first hand impression of the developments at such sites.

"This will allow us to have an impression of the functions of the economy.We have a mandate of visiting establishments which play an important role in the productive sector of the country," Ariccia says.

Ariccia also said members of the diplomatic corps, last year conducted a familiarisation tour of Zimplats and such visits are very normal.Other areas on interest include agricultural projects.

He says eight EU member states including the delegation will conduct the familiarisation tour.He also added that this is part of standard tasks of all heads of missions and is not linked to the Kimberley Process.

Minister Mpofu recently said that unlike other countries in the world, Zimbabwe did not restrict organisations intending to carry out familiarisation visits to diamond mining sites.

"We do not bar anyone from the sites, in other countries diamond mining sites are no go areas," Mpofu said.

Last year, Zimbabwean journalists had the opportunity of visiting Chiadzwa diamond mining sites on a familiarisation tour.

The visit by the EU is to be conducted at a time when there are intensified calls for transparency in Zimbabwe's mining sector especially with regards to diamond mining.

Organisations like the Center for Public Accountability (CPA) and the Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association (ZELA) have been at the forefront of this call.

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