Sunday, February 12, 2012

KPCS Certifies New Diamond Mine in Zimbabwe

KPCS certifies new diamond mine

Sunday, 12 February 2012 00:00
Brezhnev Malaba Editor
Zimbabwe Sunday Mail

In a major boost for Zimbabwe's diamond production, a new mine has been certified to sell gemstones under the Kimberly Process Certification Scheme (KPCS), bringing to four the number of compliant companies in Marange, officials have confirmed.

Diamond Mining Company (DMC), 50 percent owned by the Government through the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC) and 50 percent owned by a foreign investor, got the go-ahead following a thorough inspection of the mine's entire production chain by KPCS monitors Mark van Bockstael and Abbey Chikane from January 5 to 9.

Israeli diamond analyst Mr Chaim Even-Zohar estimates that the newly certified DMC could produce at least 2,5 million carats worth US$130 million (at current prices) annually.

He further expects production to be much higher as the mine ramps up operations.

The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development, Mr Prince Mupazviriho, told The Sunday Mail in an interview yesterday that the Government received the monitors' report on January 23.

"The report confirms that we met all the requirements, from production to sort house.

We have also complied with the requirements pertaining to the relocation of families affected by the mining operations in that area.

The systems we have built in terms of diamond mining are robust," he said.

Mr Mupazviriho said the focus now was on boosting production.

"Not only have we met the minimum KP standards, we have exceeded them. Now that we have the compliance certificates, the question is: how do we consolidate production levels?"

The latest issue of Diamond Intelligence Briefs, a leading publication in the industry, quotes the chair of the KPCS Working Group on Monitoring (WGM), Mr Stephane Chardon, as saying the monitors' report was discussed on January 26.

"The KP monitors visited DMC and found it to be compliant. This was discussed by WGM on January 26 and no objections were raised, so it seems to be ‘kosher'. The KP monitors were scheduled to conduct another visit on the occasion of the first export," added Mr Chardon.

DMC, which runs a relatively small alluvial mining operation compared to the other producers, becomes the fourth company in Marange - after Anjin, Mbada and Marange Resources.

The fifth one, Sino-Zimbabwe, ceased operations after claiming that there were no viable diamond deposits in its concession, but the mine has since been taken over by ZMDC.

Anjin, Mbada and Marange attained certification last year following a KPCS plenary session in Kinshasa, the Democratic Republic of Congo. The Kimberley Process Certification Scheme was established in 2003 under United Nations General Assembly Resolution 55/56. It aims to prevent so-called blood diamonds from entering the mainstream market, and seeks to assure consumers that they are not financing human rights abuses by buying conflict diamonds.

But the latest certification of the Diamond Mining Company has brought into sharper focus the extent to which Zimbabwe has been singled out for unfair treatment.

KPCS certification is rarely done on a mine-by-mine basis; it is usually conducted on a country-by-country basis.

Industry analysts say Zimbabwe is being subjected to overly stringent standards which no other member of the 75-nation group is subjected to.

According to projections by diamond industry experts Mr Even-Zohar and Mr Pranay Narvekar of India, Zimbabwe has the potential to produce 20 percent of world supply by value and 30 percent by volume (50 million carats out of 180 million) by the year 2015.

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