Zim diamonds set to dominate KP meeting

by Own Correspondent

HARARE - The issue of Zimbabwe's Marange diamonds is set to dominate the Kimberley Process (KP) meeting to be held in Israel from June 21-23 amid indications precious gems from the eastern districts of Chiadzwa valued at Us$12 million have found their way to Dubai, an industry belletin said Friday.

The meeting will see KP monitor for Zimbabwe Abbey Chikane - who was in the country this week on his second visit to assess whether operations at Marange comply with the diamond watchdog's standards - presenting his report although he has already indicated he will recommend that the diamonds are fit for sale on the international market.

According to diamond bulletin Rapport News, smuggling is still rife at the Marange field that is also known as Chiadzwa in Zimbabwe's eastern districts despite a KP ban.

"Still, smuggling continues from the mine as documents confirm that two Dubai-based firms, Zardiam and PureDiam, have exported about $12 million of rough gems from Marange between January and April, despite a KP suspension on Marange exports," said Rapport News.

"KP monitor for Marange Abbey Chikane visited Zimbabwe this week to further assess the various operations at the mine before making further recommendations. The Marange issue is expected dominate the agenda at the KP intercessional meeting in Israel June 21-23," it added.

Zimbabwe, which has in recent weeks accused Western governments of manipulating the KP to frustrate efforts to sell diamonds from Marange to raise cash for the broke Harare government, on Wednesday announced a ban on the sale of diamonds from any mine operating in the country until the KP certifies the sale of diamonds from Chiadzwa.

The KP last November rejected calls by civic groups to ban Marange diamonds opting to give Zimbabwe up to next month to implement measures to comply with its requirements and on Thursday the watchdog's Chikane announced that Zimbabwe is "on track" to get permission to trade in diamonds with the rest of the world. - ZimOnline