Zimbabwe Expects Kimberley Process to Approve Diamond Exports

Zimbabwe expects the Kimberley Process to certify diamonds produced at the disputed Marange diamond fields, enabling the country to resume exports of the gems, Mines Minister Obert Mpofu said.

Officials from the Kimberley Process, created to end the trade in diamonds mined that are used to fund conflict and war, will meet members of the World Diamond Council in St. Petersburg today and tomorrow to discuss Zimbabwe’s efforts to comply with conditions set out by the Jerusalem-based Kimberley Process.

“We are always expecting the best out of such meetings,” Mpofu said in an interview yesterday in Moscow. “We are hopeful that the process that has been followed to achieve full compliance is known by the members and the majority of the members are keen that we resume our exports.”

The certification of diamonds from Marange would enable Zimbabwe to resume sales of diamonds that were halted in May because Kimberley Process rules prohibit the trade of diamonds that it hasn’t certified. Zimbabwe currently has 6 million carats of diamond stockpiles that are “waiting to get into the market,” Mpofu said.

That compares with the 18 million carats produced annually by Botswana, the world’s biggest producer.

The southern African country is accused of abuses at Marange by New York-based Human Rights Watch, which says the military may have killed as many as 200 informal miners working at the site. The campaign group called for a ban on Marange diamonds unless Zimbabwe adheres to the Kimberley Process’s standards.

The Kimberley Process, an initiative by governments, industry and civil-society groups, runs a program to certify diamonds as “conflict-free,” according to its website. Conflict diamonds are the rough gems that have been traded by rebel movements to finance wars against governments, including those in Angola, Ivory Coast, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Sierra Leone, it said.

The Zimbabwean government seized the Marange mine from U.K.-based African Consolidated Resources Plc in 2006, without giving reasons. African Consolidated is challenging the seizure in Zimbabwe’s courts.

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