Confusion still reigns over Marange diamond exports

Confusion still surrounds the outcome of the Working Group on Monitoring’s decision on Zimbabwe’s diamond exports from Marange with some reports saying the country has been given the go-ahead but has to accept the offer before it can resume exports.

Reports from Indian newspapers where Surat, the world’s largest diamond polishing hub is, say India and China brokered a solution which the United States and the European Union agreed to at the meeting at the WGM meeting in Dubai on 14 April.

The reports said the two countries, which had threatened to sanction any country or company that dealt with Zimbabwe’s diamonds after Kimberley Process Certification Scheme Chairman Mathieu Yamba gave Zimbabwe the go-ahead to export its diamonds last month, are now reported to have agreed to let Zimbabwe sell its diamonds.

But the reports said Yamba is now supposed to send the “consensual draft” to the government of Zimbabwe for its acceptance so that it can resume exports.

It is not clear whether the draft is different from the one the WGM reached last year which set conditions for the sale of Marange diamonds and contained violent clauses. The government of Zimbabwe refused to endorse that draft insisting that it wanted to sell its diamonds without any pre-conditions because its mines met the KP guidelines.

India is desperate for Zimbabwe diamonds to save the diamond industry in that country and is reported to have some $250 million worth of diamonds from Marange waiting to be cleared. Diamonds from Marange can create 250 000 jobs in Surat.

Vasant Mehta, immediate past president of the Gems and Jewellery Export Promotion Council and a vice president of the International Diamond Manufacturers Association told a meeting of the diamond industry leaders last week that the diamond trade was risking the "imminent death of this industry which we have painstakingly built throughout decades of hard work and wisdom of so many people."

He said the diamond industry was being deprived of the supply of some 30 million carats of rough diamonds from Marange, at a time when demand for rough was rising. Criticising the decision-making processes in the Kimberley Process, he urged all relevant parties "to sit in the room and hear the voice of sanity and resolve the issue in the next two days, which is acceptable to everybody and of course to Zimbabwe."

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