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WDC hopes to resolve Zim diamonds issue at upcoming KP meeting
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30th May 2011
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JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) – While the trade status of Zimbabwe’s diamonds remained uncertain, the World Diamond Council (WDC) was “hopeful and optimistic” that a decision would be reached at the upcoming Kimberley Process (KP) meeting, in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), WDC president and CEO Eli Izakhoff told Mining Weekly Online on Monday.

In April, the WDC urged members of the international diamond industry to refrain from trading in and exporting goods from Zimbabwe's Marange, following reports that KP chairperson Mathieu Yamba gave the green light to export rough diamonds from two official concessions in the Marange region, subject to oversight by the appointed monitor.

Izakhoff described the issue in Zimbabwe as “fluid” and said that all relevant stakeholders, including the members of the KP, hoped to resolve the issue as soon as possible.

“We want to get this matter behind us. The monitoring group on Zimbabwe has reached a similar decision to that of Yamba. While all stakeholders have a similar aim, opinions differ and the issue for the KP is how to consolidate this.

“Zimbabwe has a place in the KP and must comply with standards required thereof. Sadly, the issue seems to be a procedural matter, but it will be resolved,” he said.

The World Federation of Diamond Bourses president Avi Paz said in a media report over the weekend that the deadlock in the KP decision-making process and its experts' ensuing indecision over whether to allow rough diamond exports from Zimbabwe to resume, could cause “irreparable damage” throughout the diamond supply pipeline and trade.

China has also urged the KP to allow diamond exports to resume. China’s ambassador to Zimbabwe, Xin Shunkang, told Zimbabwe’s daily newspaper The Herald that the country would back Zimbabwe in its quest to have its gems allowed to trade on the international market during the next KP meeting.

The KP has been receiving much criticism for the manner in which it deals with issues, some claiming that the institution is failing, but Izakhoff said: “It took a lot of effort to put the KP together and it remains and effective and credible system – the challenge has been on how to approach certain issues.”

The newspaper also said that the appointment of Simon Gilberts, a former De Beers employee, as a new monitor for the KP was a move by the West to stop diamond trade from Zimbabwe.

Zimbabwe still favoured South Africa’s Abbey Chikane.

Restrictions on the export of stones from the diamond fields in eastern Zimbabwe have been in place under the terms of a Joint Work Plan agreed between the KP and the Zimbabwe government.

The KP is an international scheme that was set up to prevent the trade in diamonds that fund conflict.
 

Edited by: Mariaan Webb

 

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World Diamond Council CEO and president Eli Izakhoff discusses Zimbabwe's controversial Marange diamond region
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