Tuesday, August 31, 2010

International Diamond Expert Says Zimbabwe Could Top Diamond Producers

An international diamond expert visiting Zimbabwe said Tuesday the country could become the world's largest diamond producer if the Marange diamond fields were exploited to the fullest.

Speaking at the official launch of the Zimbabwe Diamond Technology Center in Harare, Fillip van Laere of the Antwerp Diamond Industry in Belgium, said projections based on mining activities by the two companies in the area show that Zimbabwe can produce 40 million carats of diamonds per year and earn about US$ 2 billion.

The diamond expert said with only 10 percent of the field being mined at the moment in the controversial Marange fields, production would increase if more players are brought in to work in the area.

Van laere said Zimbabwe had the potential of becoming the world's most important diamond producer, surpassing countries like Russia, Botswana and South Africa, adding that Harare's major challenge is in harvesting the diamonds responsibly and maximise profits.

With the launch of the diamond technolgy centre, which will cut and polish diamonds from Marange, Van laere said Zimbabwe is on course to adding value to the diamonds and increase revenue from the gems.

The US$13 million centre is owned by Canadile Miners, whose chairman Cogan Matanhire told delegates at the launch that when fully operational, it will create more than 7 000 jobs.

Guest of honour at the event and Mashonaland West governor, Faber Chidarikire, said the centre will lessen headaches for fiscal authorities as it expected to bring in more revenue into the country.

Van Laere is part of a four-member belgian delegation currently touring Zimbabwe. The team met with Mines Minister Obert Mpofu Monday.

Monday, August 30, 2010

To Counter Increase In Rough Diamond Prices

SURAT: As the gem dealers in Antwerp and Dubai have increased the rough diamond prices by about three per cent, anticipating robust demand from key consuming centre in Surat ahead of Christmas season, diamantaires have started building pressure on the promoters of new diamond syndicate to speed up the legalities of forming Surat Diamond Sourcing India Limited (SDSIL) and start its operations.

Industry experts said the prices of rough diamonds have climbed this year after producers, including De Beers, cut output and gem dealers rebuilt stockpiles. The rough prices rebounded by almost 15 to 20 per cent from its pre-recession level following the increase in jewellery sales across the globe, including the United States, China, Hong Kong, South America, United Aran Emirates and Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) countries.

Data collected by Gems and Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC) show that India's diamond trade during the first six months of 2010 has already surpassed 2008 levels for the same period. Rough imports for six months are up 10 per cent from the 2008 to $ 6 billion during January to June 2010.

"Recession has taught diamantaires that over production ultimately hurts their business and therefore, they no longer are holding large volumes of rough stock in inventory. However, they (diamantaires) have to depend on the gem dealers in Antwerp and Dubai for their rough supplies. But, the situation is such that the prices of rough are on fire due to the improved demand of jewellery in some of the key consuming centres of the world," president of Surat Diamond Association ( SDA) Dinesh Navadia said.

Praveen Shah of Ankit Gems said, "The company is going to directly source rough diamonds for the industry people at competitive rates. We want the company to start operations soon. This will help us in minimising our costs of procuring rough diamonds from the secondary market at higher rates."

Recently, Russia's government has announced to sell the diamonds it bought last year for $1 billion from ZAO Alrosa. However, the SDSIL promoters have been closely eyeing the developments in rough mining countries to tap the vast resources available.The spokesperson of SDSIL said the legal process of forming the company has been started and it may take a month to complete the formalities. "The response is tremendous and we have collected a huge amount running into crores of rupees in the last 10 days. They (industry stakeholders) will have to wait for a month to see the company start its full-fledged operations."

Hitesh Shah of Mahima Gems said, "Only SDSIL can promise the industry consistent supply of rough diamonds at competitive rates. However, we have been eagerly waiting for the company to start operations at the earliest."

Melvyn Thomas, TNN

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Even-Zohar's View: Sabotaging Confidence

Chaim Even-Zohar

The most disgraceful form of journalism is the kind practiced by those who have made up their minds and will never allow either facts or the truth to influence their writing. When such journalism is tied to specific elaborate commercial interests to be served “uber alles”, it makes the expressed views only more distasteful. Most decent people will not waste time with either reading or commenting. It is not worth it.

The Kimberley Process Monitor for Zimbabwe certified last week a limited export from the Mbada and Canadile mines, which by any standard are world-class mining operations well above diamond mining average standards.

These two mines employ between them some 1,000 workers drawn from local Chiadzwa tribes and villages, enabling those people to earn a decent living – quite spectacular in a country where formal unemployment is well over 90 percent. As each worker supports some 20-30 dependants, it should be a source of satisfaction to caring people that diamonds can bring so much good to an otherwise quite despondent country.

There are no human rights violations or abuses involved with these KP-compliant mines. The suggestion that the KP-certified Marange diamonds are involved in human rights violations and the suggestion that there is no guarantee that these KP certifications are free of human rights violations is a perversion of truth – and probably actionable.

Some of the buyers of these goods are among the world’s largest and most prestigious diamond concerns, including DTC Sightholders, committed to elaborate corporate best practices and corporate social responsibility policies. To impinge on the decency of these companies is nothing short of contemptuous.

The KP is far from perfect, and the need for system reforms is self-evident. Indeed, reforms are on the agenda and being actively pursued.

However, an attempt to delegitimize the KP Certification System and suggestions that it represents certification of human rights violations impacts the standing and trust in any and all of the 50,000 export certificates that are issued per year. This may deeply hurt confidence throughout the diamond business – from rough trader to consumer – and may cause irreparable damage.

That is an objective that is easy to achieve by misguided writers when facts and truth are so dispensable and useless.

Mandela Charity Official Resigns Over Diamond Secrecy

A trustee of Nelson Mandela's charity has resigned after revealing that he accepted diamonds from British supermodel Naomi Campbell in 1997.

Jeremy Ratcliffe, who was head of the Nelson Mandela Children's Fund at the time, admitted to keeping the stones after Campbell mentioned them in testimony at former Liberian president Charles Taylor's war crimes trial at the Hague.

Prosecutors had been trying to prove the gems were "blood diamonds" given to Campbell by the former Liberian leader after a charity dinner in South Africa.

Campbell had said she received "a few dirty stones" from two men who told her it was a gift. Campbell testified she assumed the stones were from Taylor, who is accused of supplying weapons to Sierra Leone rebels in return for diamonds.

The board of Nelson Mandela's charity said Ratcliffe apologized for his secrecy about the diamonds on Wednesday, and said he kept the stones out of concern the charity might be implicated in something illegal.

Ratcliffe said he gave the diamonds to South African police after Campbell named him in her testimony.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

US Diamond Trading Group Bans Zimbabwe's Marange Diamonds Despite Kimberly OK

The New York-based Rapaport Diamond Trading Network said that even if trading Marange diamonds is theoretically legal following their Kimberly certification, those buying or selling such diamonds could face US or European sanctions.

An international network of diamond dealers and buyers has instructed its members to boycott diamonds from the Marange district of Zimbabwe, threatening to expel and blacklist anyone who violates the ban.

The New York-based Rapaport Diamond Trading Network issued a statement saying that even if trading Marange diamonds is now legal following their certification by the Kimberly Process, anyone possessing or selling the diamonds could face sanctions by the United States and the European Union for doing so. The organization said it is not clear that the serious human rights violations alleged to have occurred in Marange have been stopped.

Some 900,000 carats of Marange diamonds were sold on Wednesday under the supervision of the Kimberly Process and a major accounting firm for a reported US$72 million. Finance Minister Tendai Biti said Friday, however, that the funds realized from the Harare International Airport auction was reduced to $46 million after reconciliation.

Biti said the government will be lucky to get US$15 million from the auction when all is said and done.

The RapNet diamond network is telling its members to demand written confirmation from sellers that diamonds being purchased are not from Marange. “Rapaport strongly advises all diamond buyers not to trade in KP certified Marange diamonds and to request written assurance from their suppliers" that Marange is not the source.

“RapNet will not allow the trading of any diamonds sourced from Marange, Zimbabwe," the statement said.

"Members found to have knowingly offered Marange diamonds for sale on RapNet will be expelled and their names will be publicly communicated."

Human Rights Watch researcher Tiseke Kasambala said the network’s ban can affect the sale of diamonds from the Marange alluvial field because it connects many of the largest diamond players in the world.

But economist and political analyst Rejoice Ngwenya said the ban is not likely to have much impact now that Marange diamonds have been certified by the Kimberly Process and sold into the world market.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Naomi Campbell and the 'Blood Diamond' Hoax

Diamonds aren't a major reason for Africa's conflicts, and the Kimberley Process is no guarantee of a stone's pedigree in any case.

Associated Press
Naomi Campbell testifies at Charles Taylor's war crimes trial.

Thanks to Naomi Campbell's clueless testimony before the U.N. Special Court for Sierra Leone in The Hague, the manufactured nonscandal of "blood diamonds" is once again being trundled before the collective gullibility of the world.
The hoopla is over some diamonds that allegedly were given during a gala fund-raiser hosted by the sainted Nelson Mandela to Ms. Campbell by Charles Taylor, the apparently infatuated accused mass murderer and ex-president of Liberia (and erstwhile friend of Americans such as Jesse Jackson and Jimmy Carter).

U.K. supermodel Naomi Campbell told a war crimes court that she received a gift of "dirty-looking stones" that she assumed were from Liberia's Charles Taylor. Video courtesy of Sky News.
But despite what much media coverage would have you believe, the parallel occurrences of diamonds and internecine mayhem in Africa are in no way related—certainly no more than are violence and any other commercial commodity found on the continent. When was the last time we heard of "blood manganese," or "blood copper," or, for that matter, "blood bananas" or "blood cut flowers"?
The fact is that most African diamonds are produced in places that are reasonably-to-perfectly peaceful (such as Botswana, Namibia and South Africa), whereas there are murderous African conflicts that rage elsewhere without the slightest "assistance" from diamonds (such as Rwanda, Uganda and the Sudan).
Alas, this simple truth is no match for the combined forces of liberal guilt and the commercial interests of a few players in the diamond industry. So the "blood diamond" charade has marched on unimpeded, passing through Congress (where I testified about the absurdity of the whole notion 10 years ago), through Hollywood in the hands of Leonardo DiCaprio (in "Blood Diamond"), and most recently last week with a supermodel's testimony in The Hague about her "dirty pebbles." In this faux-morality play, everyone has an assigned role:

• Cover-seeking panjandrums of the diamond industry—egged on by the canny PR spinners at DeBeers. The latter's main interest is in eliminating independent diamond production. But the campaign against "blood diamonds" is eagerly latched onto by many others in the industry who see any intergovernmental anti-"blood diamond" scheme, no matter how unworkable or feckless, as an opportunity to reap respectability and goodwill.
• Cynical NGO charlatans who know a good racket when they've stumbled on one, and who know that emotive images of amputees and child soldiers, when pictured (no matter how incongruously or unjustifiably) beside diamond-bedecked Naomi Campbell types, will prove irresistible to the unknowing public.
• Venal politicians on every continent, who will leap onto any bandwagon that provides a vehicle for cheap moral preening.
The result of this toxic mixture of ignorance, conscience-lining and moral hucksterism is something called the "Kimberley Process." This Inspector Clouseau-like agglomeration of squabbling national boards and committees attempts to identify and guarantee the provenance of every diamond in the world—a task as hopeless as trying to identify the lineage of every dollar bill in circulation.
The accuracy and validity of a particular diamond's "birth certificate" lasts exactly as long as it takes for that diamond to join one other single diamond or parcel of diamonds. In the course of being bought and sold, rough diamonds can be—and are—thrown together like blended coffee beans, thereby completely losing their "lineage." Thus, it is quite common for an international diamond dealer to buy a parcel of rough diamonds from, say, a Canadian mine, another from diggers in the Congo, and another from DeBeers in London (which itself has already mixed its diamonds from its suppliers in various countries), re-sort the mixed whole, and then sell small lots from that larger "mix" to individual diamond cutters.
In this situation, is it remotely plausible that a diamond cutter could certify from which country a particular stone has emanated? And this scenario doesn't even begin to apply to an utterly anonymous, changed-beyond-all-recognition, cut diamond that a "civilian" will buy in a jewelry store.
In short, diamonds have no legally dispositive geographical DNA. As I believe they say on 47th Street, "fuggeddabahdit."
To the extent that this intercontinental tail-chasing of a "Kimberley Process" results in anything at all (other than the moral salving of the consciences of the world's bien-pensants), it is to diminish the desperately needed revenue of those who are most courageous and blameless in the entire diamond pipeline—i.e., the independent, artisanal local diggers in Africa (and to a lesser extent, in South America).
If the campaigns of groups like Global Witness result in any fewer sales of diamonds from Sierra Leone, Liberia or the Congo, it will not diminish the income of Harry Winston or Cartier or Bulgari, nor of Africa's "Big Men," whether in presidential palaces or rebel redoubts. The only loser would be the poor devil in torn shorts and flip-flops on a muddy riverbed with a shovel and a wheelbarrow, who, if he knew what was being done supposedly in his name, would not be grateful in the slightest.
Wherever outside intervention has succeeded in ending carnage in Africa, it certainly hasn't been because of any fall in diamond sales. Rather, it has been thanks to the discreet and efficient armed intercession of Western special forces—the British in Sierra Leone, the Americans in Liberia, and the French elsewhere.
But back to the ongoing "blood diamond" soap opera: Just what was Charles Taylor doing as an invited guest in Nelson Mandela's house in 1997? Well, never mind.
Mr. Jolis is an independent rough-diamond consultant. He is an American based in Europe and has worked for many years throughout Africa.


Zimbabwe hits paydirt with sale of diamonds

Zimbabwe has started selling at least a fifth of a $US1.9 billion ($2.3 billion) stash of diamonds from a field where human rights groups say soldiers killed 200 people, raped women and enslaved children.
It was the first public sale of gems from the notorious Marange field in eastern Zimbabwe since international regulators imposed a ban in November under rules designed to screen out ''conflict diamonds''.
The auction in Harare, the capital of Zimbabwe, went ahead on Wednesday after the gems were certified as conflict-free by Abbey Chikane, a monitor for the Kimberley Process, which oversees trade in the diamonds.
Buyers from Belgium, Russia, India, Israel, Lebanon and the United Arab Emirates flew into Harare on private aircraft to inspect the stones and present bids in sealed envelopes.
Mr Chikane established that soldiers had now left the two fenced-off commercial mines producing the diamonds, and that the mines were operating according to ''minimum international standards''.
''This is the richest diamond field found in a century and it will do much to uplift Zimbabwe's economy,'' Obert Mpofu, the country's Mines Minister, said on Wednesday. ''It has the potential to raise as much as half of Zimbabwe's budget.''
Mr Mpofu said the country had stocks of 4.5 million Marange diamonds, valued at up to $US1.9 billion - a third of the national debt of a country whose economy has been ruined by corruption and mismanagement.
Stephane Chardon, chairman of the Kimberley Process, said the monitoring group deserved credit for the original ban on Marange diamonds and for ensuring the two fenced-off mines were being properly run.
He noted that the Kimberley rules applied only to blood diamonds mined and sold by rebel movements or their allies to finance armed conflicts aimed at toppling legitimate governments. It has no provision for punishing governments.
Mr Chardon said the system had helped. ''In quite a few countries it has contributed to changing conflict diamonds into development diamonds, in the sense that the revenues are going to the government and are used for development purposes and not for conflict.''
The Marange field was discovered in 2006 and is believed to be the biggest found in the world since the 19th century. It triggered a chaotic diamond rush until police and then the army moved in.
Human Rights Watch says Zimbabwe's government has still not kept its word to withdraw soldiers completely from the Marange fields, and that it found conditions there ''quite appalling'' as recently as May.
''We found people were still being forced to mine, to dig for diamonds at gunpoint by the army,'' said a researcher, Tiseke Kasambala, referring to the area outside the two fenced-off mines. ''We found children as young as 11 still working.''
Global Witness said that instead of expelling Zimbabwe from the Kimberley Process ''what we have instead is a weak compromise''.
Unless Zimbabwe kept its promise to withdraw all troops, the Kimberley Process should ''act very, very quickly'' to prevent the gems being exported.


Wednesday, August 4, 2010

President Mugabe's wife revealed as large shareholder in Marange operation

Grace Mugabe, the wife of the Zimbabwean president, Robert Mugabe, has been identified as a shareholder in Mbada Diamonds operating at the controversial Chiadzwa, or Marange, diamond deposits.

Mbada Diamonds was secretly awarded mining rights at Chiadzwa by Mugabe’s government.

Diamonds from Marange were conditionally approved for Kimberley Process certification at a meeting hosted in St Petersburg last month by the World Diamond Council.

Government sources revealed Grace Mugabe has a large holding in Mbada Diamonds together with little known South African company, Grandwell Holdings, and the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation, according to The Zimbabwean newspaper.

“The First Lady is one of the shareholders in Mbada Diamonds,” said an official from the ministry of mines cited by the newspaper.

The official said Grace Mugabe had held many meetings with Robert Mhlanga, Mbada Diamonds' chairperson. He is said to be a close confidant of the Mugabe family dating to when he served as President Mugabe's personal helicopter pilot.

Mbada Diamonds last year flew more than 300,000 carats of diamonds to Harare International Airport where it planned to auction the gems, but the sale was stopped shortly before it was due to take place.


DE Beers CEO Gareth Penny Resigns

Gareth Penny, who served as DE Beers CEO for the past five years, has announced his resignation; the company announced Friday morning and will step down in the coming months. While a search for a successor is underway, Chief Financial Officer Stuart Brown and Chief Commercial Officer Bruce Cleaver will serve as acting joint-CEOs.

The diamond mining giant confirmed in its H1 2010 financial results released Friday morning the rumors that have been circulating in the market in the past year that Penny has turned in his resignation.

Penny's resignation took many by surprise, giving rise to immediate market speculation. IDEX Online learned that Penny discussed his resignation with senior staff Wednesday evening, expressing satisfaction with the company's return to healthy activity, yet discussing the many long hours and hard work that kept him away from his family.

A successor is yet to be named. Chief Financial Officer Stuart Brown and Chief Commercial Officer Bruce Cleaver will serve as acting joint-CEOs as the search for a new CEO is underway.

Following the announcement, Penny, 48, said this morning that the past 18 months have been an extremely challenging period for the diamond industry, for De Beers and for him personally.

"After overseeing the response to the global financial crisis and the company’s subsequent recovery, the CEO of De Beers, Gareth Penny, has advised the Board that he believes it is an appropriate time for him to step down," the company said.

The company did not provide any further explanations to the resignation. One company source told IDEX Online that Penny's intention from the beginning was to serve only five years as CEO before moving on to a new position.

Talk of a possible dissatisfaction by the board was quickly dismissed by the company.

The race for the new opening is now in full force, with many names being tossed in the air. Among the mentioned names are DTC CEO Varda Shine and Executive Director for External and Corporate Affairs Stephen Lussier, who is also a member of the Oppenheimer family. However it is understood that the search for a replacement will not be limited to internal candidates.

"The Board would like to thank Gareth for his substantial contribution to De Beers during his 22 years with the company, and wishes him every success as he pursues new opportunities."

Nicky Oppenheimer, Chairman of De Beers Group said Penny was "a passionate and effective leader during some of the most difficult challenges De Beers has faced in its long history. I have full confidence in the experienced management team that Gareth has assembled, who will carry on our current course to deliver shareholder value.”


Genocide, blood diamonds and the absurd hypocrisy of supermodel Naomi Campbell

The supermodel Naomi Campbell is due to make an appearance at a war crimes tribunal in The Hague today. However, you may not see her doing so. She has obtained an order preventing her being photographed as she enters and leaves the court building in the Dutch city.

What is Ms Campbell doing at a war crimes tribunal? She has been subpoenaed to appear at the trial of Charles Taylor, a former President of Liberia, and not at all a nice piece of work, who is charged on 11 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity over his alleged involvement in the civil war in neighbouring Sierra Leone - including murder, rape and conscripting child soldiers.

Ms Campbell is alleged to have accepted a 'blood diamond' from Mr Taylor - or from a couple of his heavies - after meeting him at a dinner given by Nelson Mandela, then President of South Africa, in 1997.

Can this be the same saintly Nelson Mandela revered by world leaders, championed by the media and adored by billions of people? Yes, it can.

What a tyrant and alleged genocidal maniac like Mr Taylor was doing at a bash hosted by Mr Mandela is only one of the fascinating questions thrown up by this case.

Another is whether nice girls should accept valuable diamonds from men they scarcely know who turn out to be monsters.

Most of us would say, on the whole absolutely not, while accepting that it may be difficult for some members of the female sex to refuse one of those bright sparkly things wherever they may come from.

Naomi Campbell, it should be stressed, vehemently denies having received any kind of diamond from Mr Taylor. Unfortunately, there are a couple of witnesses who disagree.

One is the American actress Mia Farrow who was present at the same Nelson Mandela party and has sworn an affidavit asserting that an uncut diamond did pass hands.

This is what she told ABC News: 'You don't forget when a girlfriend tells you she was given a huge diamond in the middle of the night.'

Quite so. That sort of thing does tend to stick in the mind.

Anyway, we will see what happens in court. Surely it is in the public interest to know whether or not one of the most famous models in the world pocketed a valuable jewel from an allegedly corrupt African dictator. Ms Campbell has, however, been doing her very best to make herself invisible.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-1300445/STEPHEN-GLOVER-Naomi-Campbell-Genocide-blood-diamonds-absurd-hypocrisy.html?ito=feeds-newsxml#ixzz0vgTLgs00