Sunday, June 5, 2011
Indians want Marange gems
A key Indian rough diamond buyer has urged New Delhi to accept imports of stones from Zimbabwe’s Marange mines following reports South Africa has authorised dealers to take stones from the controversial mines.
The Surat Rough Diamond Sourcing India Limited (SRSDIL) - a special purpose company formed to source rough diamonds from African countries – said the move by South Africa should spur New Dehli to act urgently, warning that further delay could see India losing out on the Marange stones to China and Russia.
"Instead of South Africa, the initiative of accepting import of Zimbabwe diamond should have been taken by India as Surat is the end-user of Zim stones,” said SRSDIL chairman Ashit Mehta.
"If India will not act in favour of Zimbabwe, the diamantaires will lose the supply of Zim diamonds to China and Russia," Mehta said, in what should be good news to Zimbabwe’s cash-strapped government that is keen to resume exports of the Marange stones.
The South African Diamond and Precious Metals Regulator (SADPMR) earlier this week said it would allow diamonds from Marange in line with the stance of President Jacob Zuma’s government to support its northern neighbour’s diamond trade.
The SADPMR spoke after the World Federation of Diamond Bourses (WFDB) urged the Kimberley Process (KP) that regulates the world diamond industry to allow Zimbabwe to export the alluvial stones from Marange to avert an imminent shortage of diamonds on the international market.
But it should be the interest shown by India that boast the world’s largest diamond cutting industry that Zimbabwe will find more exciting as it looks to ramp up diamond exports and earn badly needed revenue.
According to estimates, Zimbabwe that has about two other big diamond production sites besides Marange has capacity to supply about 25 percent of world demand.
But the country has been unable to freely export rough stones from Marange -- its largest diamond deposits – after the KP banned the diamonds in 2009 over allegations of human rights abuses in the extraction of the gems and failure to meet minimum requirements for trading in the precious stones.
KP chairman Mathieu Yamba of the Democratic Republic of the Congo last March scrapped the ban on Marange stones.
But several countries, among them the United States and Britain, as well as non-governmental organisations that are KP members, have said they will not recognise Yamba’s decision to authorise exports of the Marange gems, saying the Congolese had acted without consulting all members as is required under the regulators’ rules.
Top diamond trade groups such as the World Diamond Council, Jewellers of America and the Diamond Manufacturers & Importers Association of America have also refused to recognise Yamba’s decision and have instructed their members to stay away from Marange diamonds.
However, should India follow the lead of South Africa and authorise its giant industry to take the Marange stones, this would greatly weaken the position of the countries and groups opposed to the Zimbabwean stones.