/ 6 November 2010

Zimbabwe govt takes over diamond mine

Zimbabwe’s government is taking over a joint mining venture after allegations its private partners are blood diamond dealers, the chairman of the country’s diamond company said Saturday.

All 12 directors of a company called Core Mining were banned on Friday from doing business in Zimbabwe’s troubled mining industry because of accusations they dealt in gems used to fuel war and were involved in civil wars in Angola, Congo, Liberia, and Sierra Leone, according to Goodwills Masirembwa, chairperson of the state-owned Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation.

Attempts to reach Core directors were not immediately successful.

Failed partnership
Core put up $1,5-million last year to enter into a partnership with Masirembwa’s corporation. Masirembwa said Core never came up with the rest of a promised $2-billion investment, and never explored or mined in the Chiadzwa diamond fields in eastern Zimbabwe. Chiadzwa is in the same region where human rights groups say the Zimbabwean military has used forced labour, torture, beatings and harassment to collect diamonds.

A potentially lucrative 60 000-hectare field with diamonds close to the surface was discovered in eastern Zimbabwe in 2006 at the height of the country’s political, economic and humanitarian crisis. The military took over the area in late October 2008. Zimbabwe denies allegations its troops are responsible for human rights abuses in the fields.

Last year, Zimbabwe diamond sales were restricted by the Kimberley Process — the global body responsible for ending the trade of blood diamonds. But in August, the Kimberley group declared two shipments of stones from the Zimbabwe mines conflict-free.

Extending the approval to all the fields dominated recent Kimberley Process meetings in Jerusalem. The meetings ended with restrictions on Zimbabwe in place after negotiators were unable to reach a compromise to allow more exports. – Sapa-AP