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Zimbabwe Marange Mines 1 Million Carats Gems a Month

Production from Zimbabwe’s Marange diamond fields is about one million carats a month, said Chaim Evan-Zohar, president of Tacy Ltd., citing information he got from a government official.

The gems from the fields are not “blood diamonds” but are produced under the “wrong political system,” Evan-Zohar, of the industry consultant company, told the Mining Indaba conference in Cape Town today. Talks with the Kimberley Process to allow their export have failed, he said.

The diamond industry “can’t afford” to ignore “issues” like the Marange diamonds, Evan-Zohar said. “We thought the whole thing was behind us.”

Zimbabwe is in talks with the Kimberley Process, which monitors trade in so-called conflict diamonds, on selling gems from the field in eastern Zimbabwe, the World Diamond Council said Feb. 4, without giving further details. The southern African nation must show how it will stop gems being smuggled over the border to Mozambique, the Kimberley Process said in documents sent to Zimbabwe on Dec. 29 and obtained by Bloomberg News.

Human Rights Watch, based in New York, said Dec. 29 that President Robert Mugabe may be using diamond revenue from Marange to fund political violence and intimidation against his opponents in the Movement for Democratic Change.

Rights Abuses

Rights group Kubatana in Zimbabwe says the government committed repeated abuses at Marange, an alluvial diamond field seized from U.K.-based African Consolidated Resources Plc in 2006. No reason was given for the seizure, which African Consolidating is challenging in the Zimbabwean courts.

Mathieu Yamba, the Kinshasa-based chairman of the Kimberley Process declined to comment when called by Bloomberg News for comment today.

Yamba on Feb. 4 said Zimbabwe hadn’t responded to a proposal that would allow it to resume exports of gems from Marange.

Diamonds from Marange are “out there,” Evan-Zohar said. “Diamonds are like water, you really can’t stop them flowing,” he said.

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