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The Marange Imbroglio Need For a Long Term Solution
Diamond World examines the issues involved and asseses the long term prospects for a smooth flow of rough from the Marange fields, which some industry estimates say could contribute a significant share of the rough to world markets in coming years .
By: Diamond World News Service
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Aug 25 2010 12:23PM
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Reference: 5245  

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The Backdrop to the Crisis A quick glance at the background and the events that led to the crisis. * The Exclusive Prospecting Order (EPO) held by De Beers over Marange via their subsidiary Kimberlitic Searches Ltd. from the 1980s, expired in 2006. Exploration rights were then taken up by African Consolidated Resources (ACR), a British-registered company.

* As ACR was preparing for a trial run of mining operations in December 2006, the Government of Zimbabwe, through the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation took over the rights, despite a court ruling allowing ACR to continue mining.

* Meanwhile a diamond rush of sorts had begun in September 2006, in this alluvial area. It is reported that it reached a peak in by mid-December 2006, even after the government had taken over and that around 10,000 illegal artisanal miners were working very small plots at Marange.

* This led to major water, sanitation and housing crisis. Initially, the miners sold their diamonds to the government, but quickly a black market developed.

* By end 2006, the government started crackdown on these artisanal miners which continued, which included attacks from the air it is alleged, and which it is said led to 30,000-35,000 people being shot by December 2008.

* It was reported that in February 2009, Human Rights Watch (HRW) researchers conducted more than 100 one-on-one interviews with witnesses, local miners, police officers, soldiers, local community leaders, victims and relatives, medical staff, human rights lawyers, and activists in Harare, Mutare, and Marange district in eastern Zimbabwe.

* HRW reported that “those interviewed said that police officers, who were deployed in the fields from November 2006 to October 2008 to end illicit diamond smuggling, were in fact responsible for serious abuses - killings, torture, beatings, and harassment - often by so-called "reaction teams," which drove out illegal miners.”

* In June 2007 the KP annual plenary noted with concern the continuing challenges to KP implementation in Zimbabwe and recommended further monitoring of developments there.

* By late 2008, NGOs said, mining was being carried out by soldiers using local villagers for forced labour.

* In December 2008, the Kimberley Process Civil Society Coalition representing NGOs which participate in KP was formed and called for Zimbabwe's suspension.

* In November 2009, at the plenary of the KPCS, the call for suspension of Zimbabwe was rejected but a working plan was devised for monitoring diamonds mined in the Marange fields. The plan aimed at curbing illegal mining and smuggling, securing the area and for improving the accounting and audit of diamonds mined at Marange and supervising exports.

* The High Court of Zimbabwe ruled in April 2010 that the government could sell diamonds from Marange, even as it dismissed an urgent application from ACR asking that diamond sales from the disputed fields be stopped.

* On May 6, 2010, the KP Chair issued a notice to all participants that they should maintain vigilance to ensure that Marange diamonds comply with the KPCS.

* In June 2010, at the Intersessional meeting, KP appointed Monitor Abbey Chikane reported that "Based on evidence provided by the government of Zimbabwe and private investors, and on...first-hand assessment of the situation, Zimbabwe has satisfied the minimum requirements of the KPCS for trade in rough diamonds".

* However, very long and hard discussions followed as the NGOs maintained that the army was still in control of the Marange fields. For the first time the Meeting ended without resolution of the issues.

* President Mugabe threatens to export Marange production with or without KP sanction.

* NGOs also protested the arrest of Farai Maguwu shortly after his meeting with KP Monitor Chikane, sometime in May 2010, during which he had handed over documents.

* WDC Chairman, Eli Izhakoff invited stakeholders to a mini summit during the annual meeting of the WDC in St. Petersburg to continue the discussions.

* Farai Maguwu released few days before the mini summit, and is seen as a goodwill gesture.

* July 14-15, discussions by stakeholders leads to the consensus agreement.

Vasant Mehta
Vasant Mehta
Vasant Mehta, Chairman GJEPC

“The Consensus Agreement is a Good Development”

“We welcome the consensus arrived at between all stakeholders of KP at the recently concluded St. Petersburg meeting. It could have been better, as, for the moment, the agreement is limited only to the production from May 28, 2010. However, it is a first step in the right direction and it has broken the impasse.

“There is a real desire to move ahead and meet required standards on part of the Zimbabwe government, which has been noted by all agencies, and all the people concerned.

“I am glad that the alleged atrocities and abuse of power, if any, have come to an end. Various senior members of the industry who visited Zimbabwe have also said that there was no military presence on the Marange fields.

“There is an audit on at the moment and if all is clear and the review mission gives a clean chit at the end of the current process, then hopefully, exports will continue post September as well.

All of us in the diamond industry are interested in seeing that the production from Marange comes into the mainstream in a legal and orderly manner. After all, at stake is the livelihood of about 3000 diggers on that country affecting about 30,000 people counting their families and dependants; and about 300,000 cutters and polishers in manufacturing centres all over the world.”

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