Republic of Zimbabwe Minister of Mines Obert Mpofu has challenged the DeBeers diamond corporation for its theft of resources from the Southern African state. Zimbabwe has one of the largest diamond deposits in the world., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
‘De Beers an international looter’
Saturday, 08 October 2011 22:38
Sunday Mail Reporters
THE Ministry of Mines and Mining Development has reiterated its calls to take legal action against South African mining giant De Beers, describing the company as an international looter.
This comes amid revelations by Government that De Beers smuggled more than 1 000 tonnes of diamond concentrate out of the country in its 15 years of existence in Zimbabwe.
Mines and Mining Development Minister Obert Mpofu made the startling revelations at the Mining Stakeholders’ Conference held in Mutare last Monday. Minister Mpofu also accused De Beers, which is a major sponsor of civil society groupings such as the Centre for Research and Development and the Zimbabwe Environment Lawyers’ Association (Zela), for campaigning against Zimbabwe’s right to sell its diamonds.
He said De Beers was not displaying transparency and good governance, the same values the company’s gullible civil society campaigners were accusing the Government of violating.
“De Beers is an international looter.
“They do not know what transparency is, what good governance is. They exported not hundreds of tonnes of diamonds but thousands of tonnes. We are going to take legal action and we are going to use Zela to deal with them,” said Minister Mpofu amid applause from stakeholders.
Minister Mpofu also questioned why Zimbabwe’s critics were not demanding to know where the diamonds that were illegally mined by the 50 000-plus people at the famous Chiadzwa went to.
“Where are the diamonds that were collected by the 50 000 people in Marange?
“This was a result of a purposeful agenda by De Beers,” contested Minister Mpofu.
He said De Beers must come clean on its activities in Zimbabwe.
“They were there for 15 years taking the diamonds everyday and we have the records to that effect and our civil society has never said anything about it.
“They did not say they had found diamonds in Zimbabwe but when Government started to ask questions they abandoned.
“Their withdrawal was so sudden and a few hours later they left African Consolidated Resources (ACR) to take over. ACR, a British-listed company without any mining operations but listed for not doing anything, save for making claims that they have mining rights in Marange.
“ACR realised that they would not get enough because Government was on their heels, they brought in 50 000 people into the diamond mining fields. All of you saw that.
“And all those diamonds are not accounted for. Is that transparency?” Minister Mpofu said, before adding that the gems were not in the hands of the Zimbabwean Government.
He added: “They are not with Government. In fact, when Government was running around with the help of the Minerals Unit, one of the ACR directors was nabbed in possession of 27kg of diamonds at one of his houses. These are facts that are being ignored.
“What happened to the diamonds that were being used by Savimbi to fight the (Angolan) government?
“Who was paid in those diamonds, where are those diamonds? Where are the diamonds that were actually fanning the war in Sierra Leone, in Cote d’Ivoire, in DRC, where are they?
“Transparency. You guys (civil society) should know where they are if you guys preach transparency as you claim. Where are those diamonds? They are not in Africa, nor are they in Zimbabwe.”
He added: “To the NGOs, we say we are not scared of any scrutiny as Government.
Actually, that makes us work better.
“You keep on referring to Botswana as the best model, but are the people of Botswana getting full beneficiation from their diamonds?
“For your own information, the Tswana people have no idea of what transpires at the De Beers diamond mine.”
He defended the presence of security forces at the Chiadzwa diamond fields.
“Our security forces did a wonderful job because nowhere in the world could that magnitude of people be easily cleared in a diamond area.
“Our army and our police did a splendid job and they are being vilified for doing that.
“During the time of this (diamond) rush and looting, we were compliant as a country and allowed to sell our diamonds.
“Immediately, we brought in new investors, cleaned up the place, put a security fence, we were barred from selling our diamonds because the De Beers looters realised they were now out of business at Marange.”
Official documents show that the company exported more than 1 000 tonnes of diamonds under the pretext that it was still carrying out exploration.
It was granted 47 Exclusive Prospecting Orders (EPOs) in Chipinge, the first of which was gazetted in March 1996. Of these EPOs, 13 were in Chipinge District and the remainder in Chimanimani.
The first tenure of exploration was under EPO 1059 in Marange and 1062 in Mutowona, covering more than 61 000 hectares.
Four kimberlites were discovered under EPO 1059 and one kimberlite under EPO 1062.
However, the validity of the EPO lapsed in 2001 before De Beers completed its search.
A new application to renew the EPO was lodged with the Mining Affairs Board and was granted in March 2002. The company later discovered cemented diamonds, but did not report this discovery to the Ministry of Mines.
It subsequently abandoned operations. It emerged that in 1996, De Beers exported 32 tonnes of rock samples, 608 tonnes of drill core and 64 tonnes of soil samples. In 1997, it collected 16 tonnes of soil sample and 53 tonnes of rock samples. Eighty-eight tonnes of crushed rock were collected and exported in 1998, while 228 tonnes of the same were exported in 1999.
In 2000, the company exported 38 tonnes of crushed rock. In 2003, 150kg of exploration samples were exported while rock samples amounting to 761kg and 100kg concentrate were exported in 2004.
In 2005, 262kg of concentrate (64kg of which were exported in trunks and 111 895kg in drums) as well as 1 318kg of rock samples.