Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Gem Diamonds Finds World’s 15th Largest White Diamond at Letseng, Lesotho

Gem Diamonds Ltd. (GEMD) found the world’s 15th largest white diamond at its Letseng Mine in Lesotho.

The company, based in London, said the 553 carat diamond is being analyzed in Antwerp. The stone is a type II D color diamond, the company said in a statement today.

The world’s biggest certified diamond is the 3,106-carat Cullinan, found at the mine near Pretoria, South Africa, in 1905. It was cut to form the Great Star of Africa and the Lesser Star of Africa, set in the Crown Jewels of Britain.

Gem’s mine also yielded the 603 carat Lesotho Promise. The 493 carat Letseng Legacy sold for $10.4 million in 2007 and the 478 carat Light of Letseng went for $18.4 million in 2008.

Rough diamond prices advanced 49 percent in the first half, accelerating after two straight years of more than 30 percent growth as stagnant production failed to meet Asian demand.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Zimbabwe linked to $200-million sale of ‘blood diamonds’

In defiance of international rules, Zimbabwe secretly sold more than $200-million in illicit diamonds to foreign buyers this year, funnelling the money through three banks that are partly owned by Western shareholders, a leaked document suggests.

The document, obtained by an Ottawa-based organization, states that the large cache of Zimbabwean diamonds did not have an internationally recognized certificate from the Kimberley Process, the global watchdog on the sale of “blood diamonds.”
More related to this story.

The gems were mined from the notorious Marange diamond field, where human-rights groups have documented the killing or torture of many Zimbabweans by the soldiers and security guards who control the fields.

“It shows that Zimbabwe, and those that bought these stones, were willfully in breach of a universally respected ban on Marange stones,” said Partnership Africa Canada, an independent Ottawa-based organization that helped establish the Kimberley Process.

In a separate report on Tuesday, another group said it had documented a continued wave of violent attacks by those who control the Marange diamonds. Over the past six months, dozens of small-scale miners at the diamond fields have been shot or beaten by guards or attacked by guard dogs, according to the report by Human Rights Watch.

“These acts were particularly brutal and barbaric,” said Tiseke Kasambala, a researcher at Human Rights Watch. “I spoke to the miners and saw the scars and wounds on them.”

The Marange diamond fields are among the richest in the world today, but most of the revenue never reaches the Zimbabwean treasury. The Zimbabwean Finance Minister, Tendai Biti, complained this year that $300-million in diamond revenue had not arrived in the government coffers.

Instead, analysts say, most of the money goes into the hands of the Zimbabwean military and the political party of the long-ruling president, Robert Mugabe. There are widespread concerns that the diamond revenue could make it easier for the military and Mr. Mugabe to gain control of the next Zimbabwean election, as they did in the last election in 2008.

“The money is going into private pockets,” said Farai Maguwu, director of the Centre for Research and Development in eastern Zimbabwe, who has investigated the Marange diamonds for the past three years.

“The diamonds have brought more sorrow than joy to the people of Marange,” he said. “They’re a curse to Zimbabwe, not a blessing.”

Mr. Maguwu was arrested by Zimbabwean authorities last year, just two days after he met an investigator from the Kimberley Process to discuss the diamond situation. He was held in detention for 40 days on charges of “communicating falsehoods.”

Though he was eventually released, the police harassment has continued. Last week, he said, three of his staff members were detained when they tried to provide medical assistance to the victims of assaults and dog bites at the diamond fields.

The Kimberley Process, which represents 75 nations, aims to prevent the trade of “blood diamonds” that fuel wars around the world. It has imposed restrictions on Zimbabwe’s diamond exports since 2009, following reports that the Zimbabwean military had killed more than 200 small-scale diamond miners at the Marange fields.

Last year, several temporary sales of Zimbabwean diamonds were permitted by the Kimberley Process. Its current chairman, Mathieu Yamba of the Democratic Republic of Congo, announced in March that Zimbabwe could export its Marange diamonds, but most of the world’s biggest diamond-trading and consuming nations did not accept the decision.

The leaked document, obtained by Partnership Africa Canada, shows that Zimbabwe offered $201-million in diamonds to foreign buyers on March 17 – two days before Mr. Yamba announced that Zimbabwean exports would be permitted.

The document specifies that the buyers should transfer their payments to any of three Zimbabwean commercial banks. Shareholders of the three banks include some of the world’s best-known financial institutions, including Barclay’s Bank and the investment arm of the World Bank.

Although the document does not indicate who purchased the diamonds, there is no question that the diamonds would have been snapped up by foreign buyers, as happened with all previous Zimbabwean sales, according to Alan Martin, research director at Partnership Africa Canada.

NGOs step-up anti-Marange fight

Affirmative Action Group (AAG) has blasted ongoing attacks on Marange diamonds by human rights groups as three international banking groups operating in the country were accused of allegedly enabling the sale of so-called "blood diamonds."

AAG President, Supa Mandiwanzira said since the Kimberly Process [the diamond industry’s watchdog] certified gems extracted from Marange, a host of non-governmental organisations had “started making unsubstantiated allegations of human rights abuses in Chiadzwa”.

"Thankfully right thinking citizens of the world are no longer taking these western-backed groups seriously as everyone, including the European Union, are now aware that the Marange diamonds are the most clean diamonds in the world when measured by the Kimberly Process's blood diamonds yardstick," Mandiwanzira said.

His remarks followed claims by Partnership Africa Canada that the Zimbabwe subsidiaries of Barclays Bank and South Africa-based Standard Bank were involved in the sales of Marange diamonds.

Standard Bank immediately dismissed the allegations.

“Standard Bank refutes the allegation by international human rights group Partnership Africa Canada that it or its affiliates own shares in Zimbabwean banks that have ties to the Marange diamond field.

"This (allegation) is unfounded and based on a misunderstanding of the fiduciary relationship between Stanbic Nominees and its clients,” the bank said in a statement issued on Tuesday.

Partnership Africa Canada also cited local banks, BancABC, Commercial Bank of Zimbabwe and Premier Banking Group, warning that by facilitating Marange diamond sales they were "participating in diamond-related violence".

The group's research director Alan Martin claimed: "These banks subscribe to a higher ethical bar than those who are trafficking these dirty (Marange) diamonds" from Zimbabwe's Marange diamond field.

Meanwhile, Mandiwanzira said attempts had also been made to bar his organization from attending a meeting called by the NGO’s to discuss Marange diamonds in South Africa.

"We had to fight to get our voice heard at this seminar especially given the fact that we are part of the civil society in Zimbabwe. But the seminar was clearly organised to up the tempo in the anti-Marange diamonds agenda. When we began to make our complaints louder, they quickly rushed to invite only one person from AAG,” Mandiwanzira said.

"We were are so surprised that a prestigious university like Vits would play host to such a partisan forum. Had it not been for our insistence to participate it would have been a Zimbabwe-bashing party. But we are going there armed with facts, a lot of facts," the AAG president said.

Rights groups want the Marange diamonds to be banned from the international market insisting they are tainted by allegations of killings, torture and forced labor.

Jessica Simpson Enters the Diamond Biz

Jessica Simpson will expand her billion dollar retail empire to include a line of fine diamond jewelry at Zales. Priced between $79 and $999, the Diamonds are a Girl's Best Friend collection will include rings, earrings, pendants and bracelets. Think lots of silver crosses, butterfly pendants and jewelry inspired by Jessica's handwriting. Earlier this month, Zales shared it would also be partnering with designer Vera Wang for a line of bridal jewelry. Head to Thread NY for more info.

H&M teams up with for its first U.S. e-commerce teaser.
Although H&M has pushed back the launch of its U.S. e-commerce site until spring 2012, they've offered a small consolation in the form of an online pop-up shop. Today, 20 pieces from the Fall 2011 collection are being sold on, though supplies are very limited and many pieces have already sold out. Missed your chance to shop? Fret not. All the pieces that were sold online will be available in H&M stores this Thursday.

Annie Leibovitz to throw a Kardashian soiree at her studio.
Having shot the ad for their new Sears Collection, famed photog Annie Leibovitz is going one step further and throwing the Kardashian sisters a soiree as well. According to The Cut, invites asked guests to "join the stylish Kardashian klan on September 6th at the private studio of the legendary photographer Annie Leibovitz for an exclusive preview of their fabulous new fashion Kollection for Sears." It sure is nice to be a Kardashian.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Zuma denies ignoring Mugabe's ‘blood diamonds’

President Jacob Zuma has denied suggestions that government is turning a blind eye to ‘blood diamonds’ being sold by Robert Mugabe to fund the Zanu-PF.

DA parliamentary leader Athol Trollip had asked Zuma whether he was aware that the diamonds mined at the Marange and Chiadzwa fields in Zimbabwe were being sold outside of the ‘Kimberley Process’ to fund Zanu-PF.

The Kimberley Process was set up by the United Nations general assembly resolution in 2003, giving rough diamonds a certificate of approval only if they come from countries in which diamond sales are not being used to fund a warring party.

Bloomberg reported two weeks ago that Zimbabwe, as the world’s seventh-largest diamond producer, would earn about R1.8 billion from exporting its diamonds this year. It quoted a 2009 Human Rights Watch which said that workers on the Marange mine were “killed and tortured” by security forces.

But Zuma said in a written parliamentary reply yesterday that the two mines had been given the right to sell their diamonds if the sales took place under the supervision of an independent monitor appointed within the Kimberly Process.

“Our position therefore is that Zimbabwe has fulfilled the known and stated Kimberly Process requirements and that sales of diamonds takes place within that context” said Zuma.

He gave the thumbs down to Human Rights Watch’s statements that some of the workers had been killed and tortured by Mugabe’s forces, saying that “the Zimbabwean government, in response to these allegations, allowed unfettered access to the Kimberly Process monitoring team in Zimbabwe and specifically in the Marange and Chiadzwa mines”.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Small diamond cutting & polishing centres to become tech savvy

Like the world's biggest diamond cutting and polishing centre in Surat, small diamond cutting and polishing centres across the state are all set to become tech savvy. Soon, small players in these diamond centres would get an opportunity to increase their productivity and quality of work by using hi-tech technology in diamond cutting and jewellery making.

Gems and Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC) has proposed a project under the central government's ASIDE scheme for setting up common facility centres to provide direct access to hi-tech machines and equipment and training to diamantaires in Ahmedabad, Amreli, Bhavnagar, Junagadh, Visnagar, Mehsana, Jasdan, Khambhat, Mahuva, Palanpur-Deesa, Banaskantha, Palitana, Satalasana and Ugamedi.

A proposal for Rs 40 crore project for setting up common facility centres in Gujarat and centres of excellence in Surat and Navsari has been submitted to cCentral Government for approval under the Assistance to States for Developing Export Infrastructure and Allied Activities (ASIDE) scheme.

Gujarat is the world's biggest diamond cutting and manufacturing centre in the world processing Rs 80,000 crore worth of polished diamonds per annum. Surat is the biggest diamond manufacturing centre contributing about 80 per cent of the diamond manufacturing business, while the rest is done in the small diamond cutting and polishing across the state.

Industry sources said diamond manufacturers in centres other than Surat are lagging behind when it comes to processing diamonds using hi-tech technology. Reason: the small players are not in a position to invest lakhs of rupees for installing hi-tech technology for diamond polishing and jewellery making, which is available with diamond manufacturers in Surat.

Regional chairman of GJEPC Chandrakant Sanghavi told TOI, "Diamond units operating in small centres across the state are using old and out-dated technology, which was used in Surat some 15 years ago. However, the productivity and quality of work are always compromised. Through the common facility centres, we want to provide a platform to diamond manufacturers to make use of hi-tech technology and increase their productivity at par with global standards."

According to Sanghavi, the common facility centres will provide all the facilities to small diamond manufacturers such as planning of the rough diamonds, laser marking, computer aided design (CAD) for jewellery making etc. on job work basis.

"It is a unique project aimed at upgrading the skills of diamond manufacturers with the use of hi-tech technology," president of Surat Diamond Association (SDA) Dinesh Navadia said.

Sources said a four-member team from GJEPC, IDI and SDA will visit the small diamond centres across the state and a detailed report on the need of diamond manufacturers will be submitted to the central government.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Astronomers discover planet made of Diamond

It is certainly what you could call a gem of a discovery.

Astronomers believe they have found an entire planet made of diamonds.

Scientists at the University of Manchester think they have unearthed a once-massive star in the Milky Way that has been transformed into a small planet made of the precious rock.

The international research team first detected an unusual star, called a pulsar, and followed up their discovery with research using a telescope based in an observatory in Cheshire.

The findings led the scientists to discover the gravitational pull of a small companion planet orbiting the pulsar.

Pulsars are small spinning stars more than ten miles in diameter – the size of a small city – that emit a beam of radio waves.

The team, also made up of scientists from Australia, Germany, Italy and the United States , thinks that the ‘diamond planet’ - is all that remains of the original star, most of whose matter was siphoned off towards the pulsar.

The companion planet is small, at less than 40,000 miles wide – about five times the diameter of the Earth.

But it is so close to the pulsar that if it were any bigger it would be ripped apart by the gravitational force of the star, which rotates more than 10,000 times per minute and has a mass of about 1.4 times that of the sun.

The pulsar, dubbed PSR J1719-1438, and its planet are part of the Milky Way's plane of stars and lie 4,000 light-years away in the constellation of Serpens - the Snake. The system is about an eighth of the way towards the Galactic Centre from the Earth.

The modulations in the radio pulses told astronomers a number of things about the planet.

It orbits the pulsar in just two hours and ten minutes, and the distance between the two objects is about 373,000 miles - a little less than the radius of our sun.

Despite its small size, the planet has slightly more mass than Jupiter.

About 70 per cent of millisecond pulsars have companions of some kind.

Astronomers think it is the companion that, in its star form, transforms an old, dead pulsar into a millisecond pulsar by transferring matter and spinning it up to a very high speed.

The result is a fast-spinning millisecond pulsar with a shrunken companion - most often a so-called white dwarf.

Research team member Dr Michael Keith said: 'This remnant is likely to be largely carbon and oxygen, because a star made of lighter elements like hydrogen and helium would be too big to fit the measured orbiting times.'

The density means that this material is certain to be crystalline, that is, a large part of the star may be similar to a diamond.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011


A new jewellery show produced by Jewellery World, Australia’s professional jewellery magazine, and Interpoint Events, an award winning exhibition company, will be launched next year.

We have also established a new marketing division, Jewellery Promotion Service, so a share of the profits from the Jewellery World Show (JWS) can be ploughed into consumer advertising to promote the industry.

Therefore, when you exhibit at JWS you will not only be helping yourself but you will also be helping the whole industry.

26-28 August, 2012


To register your interest in exhibiting at JWS, contact me by Friday 30 September 2011 on (02) 8586 6199 or email

Kindest regards,

John Abolins
Jewellery World magazine
Australia's Pofessional Jewellery Magazine since 1981

32-Carat Vivid Yellow Diamond could Fetch $8M

The Vivid Yellow, a rare, highly saturated, fancy vivid yellow diamond of 32.77 carats will be the star lot of Christie’s New York Magnificent Jewels sale on October 18. The golden yellow hue of this large pear-shaped stone is so intense and so deep that the Gemological Institute of America ranks it among the rarest of gemstones in its class. The stone is expected to achieve in excess of $6 million to $8 million.

“The Vivid Yellow literally blazes with color, unlike any yellow diamond I’ve ever seen,” said Rahul Kadakia, head of Jewelry for Christie’s Americas. “In the world of diamonds, a naturally colored stone of this incredible color and size represents a freak occurrence—an extremely rare geological phenomenon.”

Yellow diamonds gain their color from nitrogen replacing carbon atoms in the diamond’s structure. Where there is less nitrogen present, the resulting stone may be light or “faint” in color. In the case of The Vivid Yellow, the stone’s atoms absorbed an unusually high level of aggregated nitrogen, giving it a saturated golden yellow color.

The uncommon nature of this particular diamond’s color intensity has been reconfirmed by the GIA, whose gem laboratory is devoted to the grading and identifying of important diamonds. In its grading report for the stone, the GIA classifies the diamond as “Fancy Vivid”—the highest saturation one can find in a colored diamond. Only about one in 10 million diamonds possesses a color pure enough to qualify as fancy vivid.

In addition, the report notes that the original rough stone from which The Vivid Yellow was cut must have possessed an extraordinary intensity and thus required no modified faceting in the cutting process to help bring out the color.

“Large fancy vivid yellow diamonds such as this pear shape are rarely encountered at the GIA and come to market very infrequently,” the report states.

The unmounted diamond, which is about the size and shape of a guitar pick, will be part of Christie’s first major jewelry sale of the fall 2011 auction season, slated to take place October 18, at Christie’s Rockefeller Plaza flagship in New York. The international auction house said the stone has the potential to surpass the per-carat price of $203,000 achieved for The Golden Drop, a pear-shaped yellow diamond of 18.49 carats sold in 1990 at Christie’s London.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Ghana Consolidated Diamonds Limited to commence operations in Akwatia.

Vice President John Dramani Mahama, on Tuesday, announced that government had recommended to Parliament to create a new district out of the Kwabiberim district in the Eastern Region.

He said the new Assembly, with Akwatia as its capital, would be called “The Denkyebuo” (Diamond) district.

He said it would help create opportunities for the development of the diamond-rich area

Vice President Mahama announced this when he inaugurated the repackaged Ghana Consolidated Diamonds Limited to commence operations in Akwatia.

The Company, now christened “Great Consolidated Diamonds Ghana Limited” was closed down a couple of years ago due mainly to logistical and financial challenges, but now revived by a Ghanaian Company, which would take over the operations and Management.

Apart from their basic role of mining diamonds, the company would also diversify into agriculture, construction, engineering, building recreational facilities, security, health care, capacity building and diamond cutting and polishing, which is expected to employ over 50,000 people in the area.

Vice President Mahama said the creation of a district and revival of the Diamonds Company would reinvigorate commercial activities and transform the area into an economically viable district in the years to come.

He commended the company for including small scale miners into the operational plans, adding that, such a move could reduce the high level of environmental degradation and pollution created by their activities in the past.

The Vice President also announced that government had earmarked the re-surfacing of the Suhum-Asamankese, Adogyiri-Asamankese and the new Abirem roads to open up the areas to commercial activities and help in the carting of foodstuff from the producing to marketing centres.

Dr Kwesi Akyem Apea-Kubi, Eastern Regional Minister pleaded with the Management of the new Company to absorb old workers, who were still capable of performing, since they could capitalise on their vast experience.

He encouraged them to adhere to their social responsibilities towards communities that fall within their operational area by supporting them to achieve their development goals.

He also called for cooperation between the company and other stakeholders to ensure a mutual benefit to all parties in the industry.

Mr Ford Kamel, Deputy Minister for Lands and Natural Resources called on all mining companies in the country to enforce the mining guidelines in order to avoid the development leakages that were recorded in the past.

He said government was currently working out a development plan with Precious Minerals Commission to set up a diamond cutting and polishing plant in the area for both domestic and international markets.

Okyehene Osagyefo Amoatia Ofori Panin II, who chaired the function, called for a cordial working relationship between the management and staff for the development to the entire region.


Monday, August 22, 2011

Kim Kardashian's Diamond Headpiece

It wouldn't be a true Kardashian event without some major glitz and glam.

Kim Kardashian stunned in a strapless, custom-made ivory wedding gown by Vera Wang at her nuptials with Kris Humphries in Montecito, Calif. on Saturday. To complement the elegant dress, the 30-year-old bride added a sparkling diamond headpiece to her veil.

FIRST PIC: Kim Kardashian's wedding dress!

"She looked very Armenian, like an Armenian princess," a source at the wedding told Us Weekly.

The typically over-the-top reality superstar kept her makeup (done by celeb makeup artist Mario Dedivanovic) surprisingly simple with smoky eyes, full brows, pink blush and glossy pink lips. The only over-the-top touch: what appeared to be several sets of false lashes.

A couple days before the wedding, another insider told Us that Kardashian "wants to be the most polished, elegant version of herself and [look] timeless."

Sunday, August 21, 2011

India Approves Imports of Zimbabwe Diamonds

India's Ministry of Commerce has cleared for import a shipment of rough diamonds from Zimbabwe valued at over $153 million, the Times of India reports.

The diamonds, mined in the Marange fields in 2010, were purchased by Surat diamond dealers at auction in November 2010, and shipped to Dubai, where they were held up for export following a decision by the Kimberley Process to reinstate the embargo against any trade in diamonds from Zimbabwe.

The UAE released the shipment of diamonds on June 29 with the approval of the KP's Working Group on Monitoring. When the diamonds reached India, they were again held up pending final approval from the government.

Chandrakant Sanghavi, regional chairman of the Gems and Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC), told the Times that with the final release of the diamonds, as many as 13 Surat diamantaires had received parcels of rough product. The influx of rough diamonds is expected to ease the pressure faced by the local diamond industry in light of spiraling rough prices.

Questor share tip: Gem Diamonds is worth holding on to

Gem Diamonds, the FTSE 250 diamond miner, on Friday announced interim revenues of $196.5m (£118m) compared to $103.9m last year and, as rough diamond prices ticked higher, its profits leapt tenfold to $79m from $7.8m last time.

With mined rough diamond supply still below pre-crash highs and strong demand from China and India - where the jewellery market grew by 26pc and 37pc respectively last year - Gem said that record rough diamond prices had been achieved.
Related Articles

A new pricing mechanism agreed with luxury jeweller, Tiffany & Co, for the fancy yellow diamonds from Gem's Ellendale mine in Australia has resulted in average prices rising 52pc since the beginning of the year.

With prices having rallied so strongly, Clifford Elphick, Gem chief executive, thinks we may now see a pause. But he does believe demand from Asia will continue to support diamond prices.

To capitalise on that demand, Gem is developing its Ghaghoo mine in Botswana, with a targeted production of 100,000 carats per annum. Sustainable diamond production is planned to start in June 2013.

Gem has also been carrying out a "pre-feasibility study" for an expansion of its Letseng mine in Lesotho, with the aim of increasing production to at least 8.5m tonnes per year. A final capital estimate for this project is expected to be presented to Gem management in the second half of this year.

The shares have fallen 28pc since Questor last updated on Gem in May. But on Friday's results, they leapt by the most in nine months. That means that they are currently trading at 11 times 2011 earnings.

Questor's view remains a hold.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Gold's sparkle may take sheen off diamonds

While diamantiares in Surat believe the emerging markets in India, China, Hong Kong and UAE are likely to offset demand from the US after S&P downgrade, there are concerns in the industry that the demand for diamond jewellery in India may go down due to a surge in the prices of polished diamonds since January 2011. This would discourage the buyers and spur consumers to favour gold due to its high returns.

Industry experts said polished diamond prices are all time high. In the last six months, the polished diamond prices have increased by 60-70 per cent compared to the same period previous year following the demand in the emerging markets such as India, China, Hong Kong, UAE, Russia, Latin America etc.

"Polished diamond prices have reached a peak. The price-value equation is so unfriendly to the consumers and they are now moving back to gold.

This is going to impact on the growth rates of diamond sales in India," chairman of Blue Star group Ashit Mehta said.

Mehta said, "I do not see any change in the prices of polished diamonds in the long term." India's jewellery market is pegged at $17 billion per annum, which includes gold, diamond, platinum and others. While gold jewellery is on the top, diamond jewellery sales are pegged at $5 billion per annum.

Prices for polished diamonds are gaining as the consumption in the Asian nations is expanding with the global rough diamond producers struggling to increase their capacity idled during the global financial crisis that began in 2008.

Recently, De Beers, the world's largest producer, said its sales in the first half of the year rose to a record 33 per cent at $3.5 billion compared to same period in the previous year with rough diamond prices advancing more than 49 per cent.

According to Kimberley Process (KP) statistics, the global rough diamond production rose nearly seven per cent in volume terms at 133.12 million carats and 39 per cent in value terms at $12 billion in 2010 compared to previous year.

"Global rough diamond production is still below its peak year of 2008. As the demand is increasing, the prices of both rough and polished diamonds have increased since 2010. Now, the polished prices are so high that it may spur consumers to buy plain gold jewellery," director of Sanghavi Diamonds Aagam Sanghavi said.

Titan Industries Limited (TIL), which owns Tanishq brand, said the company is concerned about the outlook for the coming quarters because of higher gold and diamond prices.

"Consumers don't find the price-value equation in diamonds anymore and they want to go back to gold," a senior executive with Tanishq said. "Gold is far closer to the psyche, ethos and culture of Indians than diamonds," he added.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Was Shehla shot for fighting illegal diamond mines?

NAGPUR: "The purpose of civil resistance is provocation. Anna has succeeded in provoking the government and the opposition. Hope he wins us freedom from corruption. Meet at 2 pm at Boat Club, Bhopal."

This was Shehla Masood's message on Tuesday, minutes before she was shot dead. Shehla, a Madhya Pradesh-based civil and environmental rights' activist was shot dead by an unidentified person in front of her residence in Koh-e-Fiza locality in Bhopal around 11 am on August 16.

The brutal murder of Shehla exposes the fate of those protesting illegal mining and fighting to save tigers and forests. "The government did nothing after RTI activist Amit Jethawa's murder in Gujarat and hence we lost Shehla now," remarked Kishor Rithe, president of Satpuda Foundation.

A day before, Shehla said, "I'm proud to be an Indian. Happy Independence Day." The next day she was shot dead. Wildlife activists and environmentalists are aghast at the irony that tigers, tribals, trees and civil and environmental rights activists are being hunted and killed.

They fear that the possible connection between Shehla's murder and her raising the issue of illegal diamond mining project in Chhattarpur in Madhya Pradesh by Rio Tinto, a transnational mining company headquartered in the United Kingdom.

Shehla fought to save tigers and forests. In September 2010, her NGO Udai had launched a massive signature campaign in MP against killing of the Jurjuria tigress in Bandhavgarh reserve on May 18, 2010. She demanded the arrest of the culprits, who were influential persons. She was also keen to save the watershed of the Panna tiger reserve and the Shyamri, one of the cleanest rivers in the country from Rio Tinto's mining activity.

"The timing of her elimination when she was on her way to support Anna Hazare's fast was meant to overshadow the issue of illegal diamond mining project in Chhattarpur by Rio Tinto and the political mafia," a section of activists feared.

The diamond mining block is inside a forest which is the northernmost tip of the best corridor of teak forests south of the Gangetic plain. It is an established law that mining is non-forestry activity. There is an immediate need for a probe to determine who allowed mining to take place in such an ecologically fragile area.

The Bunder mine project, near Chhatarpur, is likely to be one of the largest diamond reserves in the world. It is estimated that there is a 'inferred resource' of 27.4 million carats, a diamonds resource seven times richer than the Panna mine, the country's only working diamond mine.

On March 22, 2011, the need to review the diamond mining project in Chhattarpur which is posing serious threat to environment in the region was raised in the Lok Sabha.

Two district collectors were transferred to facilitate the ongoing illegal mining. The fact that the new collector has allowed mining came to light when a PIL was filed stating that Rio Tinto has been exploiting mineral resources in Chattarpur by violating provisions.

Shehla was fighting against mining activity. On January 19, 2010, she had filed a complaint with the DGP of MP, accusing IPS officer Pawan Shrivastava of making threatening calls to her. Shrivastava was harassing her for the past two years, Shehla stated in her letter. She also feared threat to her life from Shrivastava but the police did not act.

"We salute the struggle and martyrdom of Shehla who defended our forests, rivers, land and wildlife in the face of the unscrupulous corporate assault in nexus with the ruling political regimes," the activists stressed.

Shehla used to conclude her messages with a proud "Roarrrrr" that can't be silenced by the bullets of her assailants. Her murder exposes how government power is used to kill whistle blowers and RTI activists.

"We strongly condemn this murder of our fellow activist. It seems that we are not safe," said Rithe.

Stellar Diamonds begins resource drilling at Tongo project

Stellar Diamonds the diamond miner focused on West Africa, announced today it has begun resource drilling at its high-grade Tongo kimberlite diamond project in eastern Sierra Leone.

The company expects the 6,000 metre diamond core drilling programme will help define a maiden inferred resource estimate to at least 200m below surface.

Bulk sampling has already yielded 926 carats for undiluted grade of 115 carats per hundred tonnes (cpht), with potential in-situ kimberlite value estimated at up to $220 per tonne.

Stellar’s chief executive Karl Smithson says that with the recent appointment of CAE Mining as mining consultant, and now the commencement of drilling, the company remains on track to establish a maiden resource for the Tongo Dyke project in the first quarter of 2012.

Smithson adds that the Tongo bulk sampling grades “continue to prove encouraging”, with the kimberlite yielding an average grade to date of 115cpht. A further diamond parcel of approximately 300 carats will be exported in the near future to combine with the parcel of 639cts already in Antwerp which was recently valued at $191 per carat.

The company recently signed up E-Global Drilling to undertake the 6,000m core drilling at Tongo, with an option to extend the meterage if necessary. This first phase of drilling will be focussed on the 2.5km strike length of Tongo Dyke 1 in order to establish lateral and depth continuity of the kimberlite ore body at every 100m along strike.

Holes are being planned to intersect the kimberlite at depths of 50m, 100m and 200m from surface, with some holes targeting intersections at 300m vertical depth.

In addition, the 1km long Tongo Dyke 4, located 1km to the north of Dyke 1 will also be drilled as part of the programme. Previous mini-bulk sampling of Dyke 4 undertaken by Stellar returned grades of 100cpht.

CAE Mining are overseeing the resource drilling and bulk sampling programmes as part of their mandate to independently establish a maiden inferred resource estimate for the Tongo project.

In all, Stellar owns a 100% interest in four high-grade kimberlite projects in Guinea and Sierra Leone.

In Guinea resource definition drilling is continuing on the diamondiferous Droujba kimberlite pipe and a processing plant is being established on site to process bulk samples.

Smithson says: “We remain confident about the potential the Tongo kimberlite project offers and we look forward to updating the market on the progress we make as we work to establish a maiden resource base at both our Tongo and Droujba projects."

Petra sees Finsch completion in a month

Africa-focused miner Petra Diamonds expects to complete the acquisition of the Finsch mine, South Africa's second-largest mine by output, within a month, Chief Executive Johan Dippenaar told Reuters on Tuesday.

The mine, which just requires a routine registration of its transfer from De Beers, is likely to boost the group's resource base by about 48 million carats to over 300 million carats, he said. The updated reserves and resources figure will be included in the group's full-year results on September 20.

The company has already announced that revenue rose 24 percent in the year to end June as higher rough diamond prices and fast-growing demand in Asia outweighed a 4 percent decline in production to 1.12 million carats.

The mining industry is facing increasing cost pressures, particularly relating to fuel and labour.

Petra recently concluded wage negotiations, effective July 1, covering the next two years on terms similar to those negotiated between De Beers and South Africa's National Union of Mineworkers.

De Beers, one of the world's largest diamond producers, said artisans and more highly skilled employees would get an 8 percent wage rise, while salaries of entry-level employees would grow 10 percent.

"On the face of it, ours (wages) seemed to be a little bit lower, but we had other issues that we dealt with, such as medical aid, so all in all it comes out the same," said Dippenaar.

Still, Petra has kept its unit costs per tonne "fairly flat" over the last two to three years, said Dippenaar. "We have been able with these volume increases to manage the unit costs."

The company is looking to more than double production in fiscal year 2012, and is targeting over 5 million carats by FY 2019.

Miners are also facing a number of other issues, with resource nationalism seen as the biggest threat facing the sector this year and next, advisory and accountancy firm Ernst & Young (E&Y) said earlier this month.

"Miners all over the world have their job cut out," he said, referring to growing resource nationalism and attempts by governments to raise taxes and/or royalties.

The global markets have been fairly choppy since Petra last commented on the outlook for diamond prices.

"We could ... experience a little bit of nervousness," said Dippenaar. "I'm not saying anything about price, but I think the fundamentals should give us some protection," he said.

He said the company had not held any sales in the previous two weeks, but its tenders were still fully booked.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Marange diamonds seized in India

Indian police have arrested a Democratic Republic of Congo national after he was found with 10 000 carats of diamonds smuggled from Zimbabwe’s Marange area.
According to the Times newspaper, Jean Tshimaga was arrested after arriving in Mumbai from Kinshasa on Tuesday.

He was caught by officials from India’s Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) red handed. Tshimaga allegedly told the officials that he bought the diamonds in Kinshasa.

The diamonds that were traced to the Marange controversial fields did not have Kimberly Process certification.

In April, the DRI arrested two Indians with 48 000 carats of diamonds from Marange that were brought via Mozambique and Kenya to Mumbai.

India’s Germs and Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC), which is the Asian country’s import and export authority recently instructed traders to stop trading in Zimbabwe’s diamonds.

It also asked relevant departments to keep a close watch on the importation of diamonds without the Kimberly Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) certificates.

The latest arrests will put into question Zimbabwe’s claims that it has adequately dealt with the problem of smuggling in Marange.

Smuggling and alleged human rights violations are some of the reasons Western countries have opposed the certification of Zimbabwe diamonds under the KPCS.

The restriction by the GJEPC shows that India considers the Marange germs to be blood diamonds.

Blood diamonds, also known as conflict diamonds or war diamonds, are stones mined in a war zone and sold to finance an insurgency.

The sale of such diamonds is banned globally.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Rio Tinto Diamonds Launches International Jewelry Design Competition

Rio Tinto Diamonds has launched an international diamond jewelry design competition, and the winners will be displayed in a dedicated suite at the 2012 Academy Awards ceremony, news outlets report.

Rebecca Foerster, Manager of Rio Tinto Diamonds' US office, said the diamond company was "delighted" to announce the competition, adding that the jewelry industry was "hungry for product innovation and design."

Beginning and advanced designers from the US, Canada, Hong Kong, China, India, and Australia are invited to submit entries. The competition is divided into four separate categories; Champagne Diamonds; Canadian Diamonds; Sustainable Jewelry; and Rio Tinto's own Silvermist Diamonds – a line of silver-gray diamonds the company rolled out in late 2009.

The competition closes on October 26, 2011, and eight winning designs will be selected.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Kimberley Process Undermined By Allowing Zimbabwe Diamonds, Rapaport Says

The Kimberley Process, which aims to curb the sale of diamonds used to fund wars, is being undermined by gems from Zimbabwe, accused by human rights groups of committing abuses against its residents, Martin Rapaport, chairman of Rapaport Group.

The Kimberley Process has recently certified more than $200 million worth of diamonds from Zimbabwe’s Marange fields, opening up a “Pandora’s box of complex ethical, legal and financial issues” for the industry, Rapaport, which runs a diamond-pricing service, said in a report on its website today.

Zimbabwe, the world’s seventh-largest diamond producer in 2010, will probably earn about $334 million from the export of the gems this year, according to state-owned Zimbabwe Mining and Development Corp., the main producer in the country. Human Rights Watch, based in New York, said in a 2009 report that diggers at the Marange field were killed and tortured by security forces.

“The diamond trade can no longer get away with telling consumers and each other that having a Kimberley Process certificate ensures that diamonds are legitimate,” Rapaport said. “Even a child can see the KP’s emperor has no clothes.”

The Kimberley Process, which is currently based in Kinshasa, the capital of Democratic Republic of Congo, didn’t answer calls to their offices today. The organization consists of government and industry representatives from 75 nations.

Zimbabwe was given permission by the Kimberley Process to hold its first monitored sale of a $1.7 billion stockpile of gems a year ago. The KP has said it won’t allow unmonitored sales of Marange diamonds and asked Zimbabwe to tighten controls on smuggling in the area. Marange is located in eastern Zimbabwe, near the border with Mozambique.

Diamond buyers should establish their own ethical certification scheme to ensure gem entering the U.S. are conflict-free. Sanctions on Zimbabwe Mining and Development Corp. make it illegal to trade in stones mined by that company.

The ZMDC mines in two joint-ventures in Marange with closely held Mbada Mining (Private) Ltd. and Canadile Mines (Private) Ltd. Under U.S. law it’s illegal to do business with several Zimbabwean companies linked to President Robert Mugabe’s Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front party.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Battle for Zimbabwe’s diamonds

I SAT in this sofa last night and watched the much-advertised BBC Panorama Programme on Zimbabwe’s diamond industry called “Mugabe’s Blood Diamonds”. I did not want to be guided by my intrinsic bias, but I thought it appropriate to key in salient points for further debate.

I have reproduced these in point form and would welcome healthy ideas based on critical thinking, meaningful debates and opinions on paramount matters that affect our country.

Content and Context

1. The documentary is not collaborated by the state – there is no input from the state, military and police. Why did the BBC refuse interview that was granted by the Minister of Mines? Why did they not approach the army and the Police, or put them of record as having declined to be interviewed? Why did they not approach the President’s Office? Better still, approach the Prime Minister’s Office on the probity of a functional coalition Government in respect of Zimbabwe’s diamonds?

2. Judging from the responses of the interviewees, those ‘interviewed’ were probably bribed in some other ways or given money. Does one get an impression that the BBC takes advantage of political and socio-economic conditions prevailing in the country to advance a cause that is purpose driven here? How permissible is it to extract information this way? Surely all respondents cannot just be narrating the same themes? People are diverse and ideas are not packed as homogeneous blocks articulating same causes. What is the agenda here?

3. About the dead civilians that are catalogued – there is no evidence that the dead died from army gunshot wounds! Where is the evidence of the ‘dead’ apart from showing pictures of an overgrown graveyard exaggerated as a ‘mass grave’? If this was a well orchestrated Panorama interview, then of course, common sense is that there must be people to support the storyline. There is no co-relation between the dead and those names that were scribbled on an unofficial piece of paper. It would have been credible to show the name(s) of the deceased then collaborate with the hospital authorities (mortuary); and proceed to support the storyline by interviewing the relatives of the dead persons. That is evidence-based than speculative.

Research Methods

4. I am also curious that the documentary was originated from Mozambique – why? The BBC is now allowed and actually based in Zimbabwe at the moment – where, of late they appear to be sitting on their laurels or busy clandestinely doctoring records to justify ‘human rights abuses’? What is the point of totally freezing out the Ministry of Information out of the debate to which they are affiliated? Where is the balance? It was not necessary for the BBC to go to Chiadzwa through Mozambique, unless there was a justified cause. Why would one go through Angola to make a report in Namibia? I get the impression of over-exaggerating security concerns for purposes of imprinting a sense of brutality and intolerance of Zimbabwe as a country?

5. Showing the world a graveyard does not necessarily mean that those buried in it are ‘victims’ of police brutality. They may well have died of other natural causes including AIDS. Again, the aspect of connectivity or a correlation comes to the fore. Why does the BBC blatantly seek to mislead the world in a highly calculated strategy of dirty politics? On another note, showing the world of existence of the so called ‘records of death’ does not mean that they become credible enough for political consumption. Some of the information was stolen from hospitals and re-typed to produce evidence for The Hague. How reliable is such evidence?

Doggy Dossiers

The British press is known for ‘doggy dossiers’; ‘technical inaccuracies’ of figures facts and statistics and ‘sexing up’ documentaries and ‘doctoring’ of documents!

We hear tirades of how the press is manipulated by politicians especially at British Prime Minister’s Questions.

The BBC itself is part of the hugely corrupt web of ‘freedom of press’ candelabrum, where journalists, newspaper owners and reporters bribe the Metropolitan Police to avert prosecution for libelous and criminal reporting!

As I write this note, Scotland Yard bosses resigned over the News of the World phone hacking scandals where the police are alleged to have taken bribes to absolve journalists from prosecution.

It is a sickening world.

6. Why do civilians continue to occupy fields demarcated as ‘protected’ where they remain illegal occupants? Different reasons apply. By way of examples, some may still wonder about what happened to the demonstrators in UK’s Sell fields a few years back? How about at Stanstead Airport? How about at the third runway at Heathrow? How did the military police handle them? Why did the police use button sticks and ammunition on its people in Bradford? Why are the police using high-handed brutal means including live shootings in Tottenham, Enfield, Walthamstow, East Ham, Brixton and Croydon – to name just a few places?

Indeed these are riots triggered by the racist shooting of an innocent black man!

As I write this article, what is happening in Tottenham, a satellite borough of a first world capital, London is worse than what took place in Marange!

Common knowledge is that if an area is designated ‘protected’ by the state, then trespassers will meet the full wrath of the law including imprisonment! Chiyadzwa is protected, and efforts to relocate people are underway. Many of the people who were ‘displaced’ have since been successfully relocated. The area is a lot calmer now and ‘jambanja’ is a thing of the past. Why is this not being accurately reported by the BBC?

The Hague

7. I hear the BBC reporter mentioning ‘The Hague’. What for? Former Liberian president, Charles Taylor’s ghost of imperialist machinations is being reincarnated? We now hear of The Hague and see the desperation of the UK’s quest for greater influence in the management of Zimbabwe’s own diamonds – a new-found wealth! Taylor was ‘punished’ for being an obstruction to the wanton looting of resources in Liberia mainly by imperialist countries, including Britain. Inasmuch as Gaddafi has to pay heavily for the oil and the bombing of the Pan American Jumbo that fell over Lockerbie! Mugabe must fall on their sword for ‘human rights abuses’ including the land question – i.e. land reform programme that saw even the royal family’s land in Zimbabwe being redistributed to landless peasants! This is ‘works in progress’ so to speak.

8. The fact that Commander of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces Constantine Chiwenga went to Chiadzwa does not necessarily mean that he was stage-managing processes of repression as insinuated in the programme. For God’s sake someone must use their reasoning capacity. Why does the BBC now love to mention Chiwenga and Air Force chief, Perence Shiri’s names? Again, a case of building a fortress in their ‘New Zimbabwe’ agenda is well pronounced! To connect this argument: former opposition party of Morgan Tsvangirai, MDC-T is calling for the reforms of Zimbabwe’s security services by citing specific names as ‘problematic’. It cannot be a mere coincidence that the same names are also being touted in BBC’s Panorama Programme!

Atrocities in Iraq

On the other hand, we have lost count of the number of times the British PMs or USA Presidents have been to Iraq. It would be mischievous for one to speculate that they go to Iraq to motivate their soldiers to kill innocent civilians for oil or yet alone label the oil as ‘bloody’! On a related note, we are yet to see a Panorama document fully detailing atrocities being perpetuated in Gaza, Iraq, Afghanistan Northern Ireland and Libya to name a few countries. We saw one about Guantanamo Bay, but to date, no one in authority has repeated putrid statements about it. As a footnote to the foregoing, human rights become a relative term, a lexicon that is applied subjectively and discreetly for power and expedience. We need to watch the use of extreme language and diction dominating this programme.

The reporter used the term ‘serious human rights abuses’ as an emotive term designed to conjure up images of brutality.

She went on to say that ‘our cameras could not stay there long’. Again this denotes situational fear which is often appended to dictatorship and the military junta.

The true reason why cameras had to be moved from a non-existing image was that there was literally nothing to focus on!

But the impact of speculative journalism through the use of diction is used reinforce psychological fear and pressure in calculating the notion of a military state.

Thus, to portray President Mugabe as a dictator is the selling point of regime change or collective international action because ‘Plan A’ of sanctions has failed.

Whose Benefit?

9. Statements that the diamond revenue is not benefitting the ordinary people appear to be insipid and dry! Do we have to, as a country, open our financial books and budget statements to the West for inspection? How we use our financial resources as a country in entirely our own story. Of course they will inspect Botswana books and draft that country’s national budget as they please, but I do not think Zimbabwe is prepared for that. There are so many projects that have now been initiated from diamond sales proceeds.

It is up to the government to disclose the nature of the projects but really, the government is not obliged. After the coalition government was put in place, Zimbabwe’s promised AID never materialised. Zimbabwe has recovered using a combination of robust fiscal measures and macro-economic policies despite some questionable packages and strategies by the finance ministry. We are using the proceeds from diamonds to kick-start and stabilize the economy in different ways. It is only the UK which is too keen and wary of tracking minute events of Zimbabwe’s recovery process. We are not going to ask the reasons for this.

10. A point of correction is the Kimberly Process C ertification Scheme (Kimberley Process, or KP) is not in turmoil as suggested. The BBC report is designed to influence the Kimberly Process in terms of making decisions on the resumption of the sale of diamonds. The pressure on the KP is being exerted selectively, privately and publicly at different wavelengths. We saw this drama unfolding as the Panorama is now a tool designed to tip the scales in favour of British interests. This is live drama which the world is now well used to.

What happened on the eve of the election of FIFA’s Blatter? People saw the build up and desperate attempts to persuade voting members into making decisions which Britain really wanted? What happened to the over-drummed corruption case of FIFA? They say that the UK is a scarecrow that relies on its very powerful media and press for world domination. This is very true.

Alternative Markets

11. Britain is at liberty to boycott Zimbabwean diamonds. We have alternative markets. Britain is jealous that it has been isolated by Zimbabwe for too long a time when the world has moved on. It is only unfortunate for our beloved former colony that diamonds were discovered when it was almost irrelevant but significant to our political dispensation. There are contradictions and inherent in capitalist global economies: For example, I hear certain quarters of the MDC alluding to the fact that diamonds must benefit locals. But on the other hand, Britain is against this because they are arrogant, full of rapacity and greed – they want to benefit exclusively from what they think is a ‘loot’ of the day! Britain supports the MDC-T.

Master’s Hymn Book

However, MDC is singing a different song that is not even found in their Master’s hymn book. MDC ‘concurs’ with Zanu–PF by parroting that there is ‘no reverse to land reform’; but Britain wants the whole project cancelled and are prepared to ‘fund for proper land reform’. Thus, it becomes an anathema if British interests are totally marginalized, and therefore, a project is not good enough! The British culture of pursuing protracted agenda under the banner of the Empire is what keeps them on the pedestal of dominance and patronage! Truly liberated Zimbabwean compatriots find this approach rather archaic and deprecating!

12. Concoctions about who is personally benefiting from Diamonds are downright insidious and malicious. It is like perpetuating a storyline that the grand mansion that sprawl over literally the whole mountain in Highlands for Prime Minister Tsvangirai is being built from the proceeds of diamonds! It is equally unqualified to speculate that even MDC-T MPs’s pick-up trucks are a product of Marange? Hei! There is no evidence that President Robert Mugabe is personally benefitting from the diamonds – the British are paranoid and afraid of Mugabe! Inzwai, Bona is not going to school using Marange diamonds!

Social research methods call for enquiries that are based on scientific and ethical methods of extracting information through evidence-based practice. Paying inducements to ‘interviewees’ to release certain information is all but a good way of distorting findings. The halo effect is possible! Whatever the situation, the BBC must hang their heads in shame for producing such a one-sided, ill-researched, half-backed documentary for the world to see!

Feds to Sell Seized 43-Carat Fancy Yellow Diamond

A 43.51-carat internally flawless fancy intense yellow diamond will be up for auction September 6 – 9 at online auction site, Bid4Assets. The minimum bid for this cushion modified brilliant cut beauty is set at $900,000 and is currently on preview on the auction website.

The diamond was seized in a drug sting in 2006 by the U.S. Marshals Service Northern District of Ohio. The feds had the diamond authenticated by the GIA (REPORT 15154097, June 8). However, the diamond’s origin cannot be determined.

This diamond spans a 1.42 length-to-width ratio. It has a pure yellow hue with no green or orange modifying color and the color distribution is very even with no visible zoning present, according to a joint statement from USMS and Bid4Assets. “The diamond is believed to be one of the world’s most perfect and flawless canary yellow diamonds.”

The diamond belonged to Ohio businessman Paul Monea, according to court documents. Monea was convicted of money laundering and conspiracy in 2007 in U.S. District Court in Akron. He tried to sell the gem, known as the “Golden Eye,” to undercover agents posing as brokers for a South American drug cartel.

The USMS requires that bidders submit a refundable pre-bid deposit of $180,000 prior to placing a bid. Instructions for submitting the deposit can be found on the auction listing page.

There will be a viewing held for this diamond from August 29 till September 2 in Cleveland, Ohio. Only serious, qualified buyers who have submitted a deposit may view the diamond.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Diamond windfall at Saxendrift, rights at Tirisano – Rockwell

TSX- and JSE-listed diamond-mining company Rockwell on Monday reported a diamond windfall, coupled to the news that its ownership of the Tirisano project is now official.

The company reported that it had hit a diamond-production jackpot on August 2 when it recovered 373 ct in one day, representing half of the budgeted monthly production at its Saxendrift operation in the Northern Cape.

New CEO James Campbell described this as the highest daily production since the company began mining five years ago.

Four large diamonds recovered on the bonanza day weighed 180, 94, 43 and 34 cts.

Saxendrift has a similar diamond distribution to both Rockwell’s upcoming Wouterspan and Niewejaarskraal projects, auguring well for similar windfall results to be achieved when the company eventually applies its improved diamond recovery processes at these sites.

With the long-awaited transfer of the Tirisano project in the North West also now validated in terms of Section 11 of South Africa’s Minerals and Petroleum Resources Development Act, the way is opened for Rockwell to restructure its senior debt with South Africa’s State-owned Industrial Development Corporation.

Official ownership brings with it the assurance that Rockwell will bring Tirisano’s first two production lines into commercial production by the end of the third quarter, which has the potential to create 200-plus jobs in the Ventersdorp region, where the local Mogopa community is the company’s broad-based black economic-empowerment partner.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Zimbabwe is now ranked the seventh biggest diamond producing nation in the world

According to figures released by the diamond regulator Kimberley Process and reproduced by US trade gem regulator, Rapaport, Zimbabwe produced diamonds worth US$334 million last year and is ranked seventh in the world.

The rankings show that Botswana is the world's top gem producer with US$2.5 billion followed by Russia which produced diamonds worth US$2,380 billion, Canada produced diamonds valued at US$2,300 billion.

South Africa comes in on fourth position after its mines produced US$1,800 billion gems, while Angola produced US$976 million is rated fifth, Namibia is now ranked sixth after producing US$744 million diamonds.

Most of Zimbabwe’s diamonds earnings are coming from the controversial Marange fields.

During the period under review, global rough diamond production rose 39% by value year on year in 2010 to US$12 billion, according to the Kimberley Process.

The value figure was still below the peak year of 2008 when production totalled US$12.73 billion. In terms of carat volume, rough diamond production rose nearly 7% to 133.12 million carats. The average price per carat produced rose 30% to US$90.13.

Meanwhile, the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange website has been hacked by cyber intruders, forcing the local bourse to shut down the link, the group’s chief executive officer said.

“We have pulled down our website after having been advised by our hosts," Munyukwi said.

"There has not been effect in trade, but only that members of the public will.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Botswana world's top diamond producer in 2010

Botswana regained in 2010 the spot of the world's biggest rough diamond producer by value, after it had slipped to second place in 2009, says latest official statistics.

In 2009, local miner Debswana - a joint venture between Be Beers and the Botswana government - had slashed production due to the global economic downturn.

According to statistics release by the Kimberley Process, a UN certified scheme, despite Russia producing more rough diamonds in 2010 at 34 million carats worth around $2.38 billion, Botswana's 22 million carats mined in 2010 were worth around $2.59 billion -- $210 million dollars more than Russia.

Russia became the top producer by volume. It had held the top spot for both categories in 2009, Xinhua reported.

In 2011, Debswana plans to produce 25 million carats.

The Kimberley Process is a joint government, industry and civil society initiative to stem the flow of conflict diamonds - rough diamonds used by rebel movements to finance wars against legitimate governments.

It has 49 members - representing 75 countries - with the European Community and its member states counting as an individual participant.

Other top diamond producers by volume in 2010 included the Democratic Republic of Congo with 20.17 million carats, South Africa with 13.67 million carats, Canada with 11.8 million carats, Zimbabwe with 8.44 million carats and Angola with 8. 36 million carats.

Rio Tinto Diamonds Posts $10M Loss for H1

Rising rough diamond prices were not enough to keep Rio Tinto's diamond operations profitable. Lower production and increased costs eroded Rio Tinto Diamond's bottom line in the first half of 2011.

Gross revenues declined by 4% to $313 million and earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) fell by a third to $50 million.

The company's diamond unit posted a $10 million net loss compared with a $34 million profit in the first half of 2010.

In the period, RTD mined 5.23 million carats, a 26% decline. Average earning per carat rose 30.4% to $59.82 as demand and prices for diamonds improved significantly.

However, significant rainfall and lower grades at Argyle, unfavorable exchange rates and increased costs, including the impact of higher unit cash costs from lower production volumes dragged the bottom line into the red.

Diavik production is expected to increase in the second half as underground production increases.

In 2011, Rio Tinto expects its share of production to be 13 million carats, a decline from the 13.8 million carats mined in 2010. The company further stated that global supply of rough diamonds is forecast to remain at best flat over the next decade, with the potential for a decline if no new discoveries are found and developed.

Rio Tinto approved a $1.6 billion underground expansion project at Argyle that will elevate the expected supply constriction.

Originally approved in 2005, project was slowed in 2009. The remaining $803 million to complete was approved in September 2010. The underground is expected to be fully operational in 2013 with targeted production in excess of 20 million carats a year. It will extend the mine life to at least 2019.

For the entire Rio Tinto group, the company reported record first half net earnings of $7.6 billion, 30% above 2010 first half.

Rio Tinto's diamond interests include Argyle (100%), Diavik (60%) and Murowa (77.8%).

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Diamond Jewelry Demand in India May Slow After Gem Prices Surge

Demand for diamond jewelry in India, the world’s biggest exporter of the polished precious stones, may slow as a surge in prices discourages buyers and spurs consumers to favor gold, according to Titan Industries Ltd. (TTAN)

Polished diamond prices, which jumped about 60 percent to 70 percent in the last six months, may gain further in the next few months, said Sandeep Kulhalli, vice president, retail and marketing at Tanishq, the jewelry retail chain owned by Titan. The company is India’s biggest retailer of gold jewelry.

“Because of the sheer price-value equation being so unfriendly to the consumer, there are people now moving back to gold, which is where the dangerous trends are,” he said by phone from Bangalore. “There will be an impact on growth rates of diamond sales.”

Prices for polished diamonds are gaining as rough, or uncut gems, rally as producers struggle to increase capacity idled during the global financial crisis that began in 2008 and as consumption in Asian nations expands. De Beers, the world’s largest producer, said last week first-half sales rose to a record as demand from the U.S., China and India drove prices.

Rough diamonds advanced more than 49 percent in the first half, adding to two straight annual gains of more than 30 percent, according to calculations by WWW International Diamond Consultants Ltd. Polished prices have had their “strongest growth” over a six-month period in the last 30 years, De Beers’ Chief Commercial Officer Bruce Cleaver said on July 26.
Outlook Concern

Titan, also India’s biggest maker of watches, reported on July 28 first-quarter profit jumped 76 percent to 1.43 billion rupees, from 812.8 million rupees a year ago, driven by jewelry. It said that day it was concerned about the outlook for coming quarters because of higher gold and diamond prices.

Diamond jewelry is competing with gold in India, the world’s largest bullion consumer. Demand for the gem rose 31 percent last year, De Beers has said. Spot gold has advanced 17 percent this year and reached a record $1,662.85 an ounce today.

“People don’t find the price-value equation in diamonds anymore and they want to go back to gold,” Kulhalli said July 29. “Gold is far closer to the psyche, ethos and culture of Indians than diamonds.”

Higher diamond prices may spur jewelers to use fewer carats and use other gemstones in jewelry along with diamonds, and make products unaffordable for some customers, Rajiv Mehta, chief executive officer of diamond manufacturer Dimexon Diamonds Ltd., said in an interview in Mumbai yesterday. Still, he sees demand in India increasing at double digit growth rates for a decade.

“Diamonds, as any other luxury product, must be aspirational, it must be something that people need to be seen as a high-end luxury product,” Mehta said.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Rockwell Diamonds’ growth plan to require R300m-plus

JSE-listed miner Rockwell Diamonds’ organic growth plans would require an investment of about R325-million, the company said on Tuesday.

The miner currently produces about 2 500 ct/m from its Holpan/Klipdam and Saxendrift operations in South Africa, but is targeting 10 000 ct/m in the longer term.

To kick start additional growth, Rockwell plans to redevelop the Tirisano mine, which it is busy buying. The company estimated that it would take about R73-million to resume production from this mine in the second half of 2012. Tirisano is a past producer that has been on care and maintenance since 2008.

Rockwell also planned to recommission its Wouterspan and Niewejaarskraal projects within the next two years.

It anticipated that the cost of recommissioning Wouterskraal would add up to about R122-million, while Niewejaarskraal would amount to about R130-million.

The diamond miner also completed a prefeasibility study for the continued mining at Saxendrift in the Northern Cape.

Rockwell said that it was advancing its plans to access the capital necessary to meet its future production goals.

De Beers diamond sales up by 33 per cent

World-renowned De Beers Diamonds has announced that continued retail demand from India and China and stronger than expected demand in the US have resulted in a record first-half sales for rough diamonds.

According to De Beers, sales of rough diamonds during the first half of 2011 increased 33 percent, year-over-year, to US$3.5 billion (AUD$31.68 billion). The company has confirmed record sales figures for the first half of the year.

“Sales during the period have been exceptional, driven mainly by continued growth in the Middle East, Indian and Asian retail markets and their impact on rough price growth,” De Beers said in a statement.

The mining giant, which claims to produce more than a third of the world’s rough diamonds, also reported record EBITDA of almost US$1.2 billion (AUD$1.089 billion) a 55 per cent increase over the first the first half of 2010, reflecting the impact of “excellent” price growth during the period ended June 30. It predicts continued demand for the remainder of 2011.

“Sales during the period have been exceptional, driven mainly by continued growth in the Middle East, Indian and Asian retail markets and their impact on rough price growth,” De Beers said in a statement.

De Beers also commented that despite the ongoing turmoil with the global economy, it was encouraged by the continued strong growth in price and demand during the first six months of 2011.

“De Beers is confident that the exceptional growth in retail markets in India and Asia will continue to drive demand for diamonds.”

According to Lonn Miller from Miller Diamonds, demand for diamonds in Australia has steadily increased since the start of the year and he says, “there are severe shortages in the market” as a result of this increased demand.

“Demand in china and India has completely outstripped supply and this is having repercussions right throughout the international diamond industry,” Miller said.

And with Christmas approaching fast, it seems as if the increase in demand will cause price increases for the Australian market, which according to Miller is already experiencing a “relatively static supply.”

“There is no indication yet that supply of polished [diamonds] will increase to any large extent despite the recent massive De Beers sights, which will take some time to filter into the polished market,” Miller said.

The next thing the market has to monitor then are the fluctuations in the Australian dollar.

Monday, August 1, 2011

POLISHED PRICES-Diamonds Index sets another new high.

The main PolishedPrices index opened 0.8% higher from the previous week on
Monday at 170.9 points. The overall index is currently 34.9% above its level of
this time last year, and has gained 30.1% since the start of the year.
Amongst the benchmark categories, the main activity came from Commercial 0.5
carats, which gained 9.7%.

Mixed 1.0 carats were the weakest performers, slipping 5.3% on the week.

Report recommends steps for NYC Diamond District

New York City's Diamond District should consider improving the appearance of the area's buildings and marketing itself as a tourist destination as part of efforts to safeguard its future, a report released Monday said.

The report also recommended the bustling one-block stretch work with area schools to bring in the next generation of workers and consider creating its own training program.

"With government assistance to ensure the District is accessible and appealing to tourists, these strategies can enhance one of New York City's more iconic industries and ensure not only its continued existence but success for the future," it said.

The report was done by the Pratt Center for Community Development for the 47th Street Business Improvement District in collaboration with the Empire State Development Corporation.

It said the district, which runs on 47th Street between Fifth and Sixth avenues, generates more than $24 billion annually in economic impact. There are more than 4,100 companies employing more than 22,000 people. Those businesses range from manufacturing to wholesale and retail selling of diamonds and other jewelry. Some of the stores are located on ground level, with window cases filled with shiny stones to attract passers-by, while others have offices where their business is conducted.

The district, located near Rockefeller Center, is a tourist draw and would benefit by doing more with that, the report said. Among the steps it said the BID should consider is creating some kind of streetscape design. Other suggestions included replacing the sidewalks with a material that would shimmer and washing the building facades.

The district should also consider working with the city's tourism agency to do more promotion, the report said. A call to Mayor Michael Bloomberg's office seeking comment was not immediately returned.

Finding the next generation of workers is something else the district needs to consider, the report said. It found that companies in the district mostly hired through their own familial or business networks and didn't have many opportunities for internships or apprenticeships, something that would create a problem in ensuring the area's longevity.

"For New York City's diamond and jewelry industry to remain strong and vibrant, it will need an influx of new workers, the next generation of young people to move the industry forward and continue to compete in global markets," the report said.

It recommended that the BID connect with area schools that have jewelry and diamond training programs, or consider creating its own training program.