Sunday, November 25, 2012

Re-Definition of 'Conflict Gems' Unlikely

Re-definition of ‘conflict gems’ unlikely: KP chair

Sunday, 25 November 2012 00:00
From Brezhnev Malaba in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Zimbabwe Sunday Mail

Ambassador Gillian Milovanovic, the outgoing chair of the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS), has finally conceded that the re-definition of “conflict diamonds” now appears unlikely.

After attending last week’s inaugural Zimbabwe Diamond Conference, where the international diamond industry finally jumped off the fence and supported calls for the lifting of sanctions on Zimbabwe’s Marange gems, Ambassador Milovanovic, who comes from the United States, is moderating her message.

In an interview with JCK, an industry publication, she said the official Kimberley Process definition of “conflict diamond” is unlikely to change at this week’s plenary in Washington DC.

Currently, the KPCS defines conflict diamonds as “rough diamonds used by rebel movements to fight legitimate governments”.

The US is lobbying for a re-definition to “rough diamonds used to finance armed conflict or other situations relating to violence affecting diamond-mining areas”.

Non-Western members of the KPCS diamond watchdog grouping argue that the proposed re-definition is a ploy by powerful nations to bully smaller countries. Ambassador Milovanovic and Western-sponsored non-governmental organisations have all endorsed the new definition of conflict diamonds that will include diamonds produced under violent conditions.

But after discovering that Zimbabwe now enjoys the support and solidarity of the international diamond trade and industry, the KPCS chair now admits that getting that approved this year is a long shot. Approval requires an absolute consensus among all participating countries.

“We are not aiming for that,” Ambassador Milovanovic says.

“We hope to see some progress on the definition, as this can be carried forward under (next year’s) South African chairmanship.”

“The fact that there is a proposal on the table that can be looked at and refined is important movement in the attitude of the Kimberley Process,” she adds.

“What we are looking for is — if not an overt, then a clear recognition that change is needed.

I think if we get a recognition that change is inevitable, that is already an achievement.”

She does hope the KP Plenary will approve one long-time goal of reformers: an administrative support mecha-nism (ASM). “There are three proposals,” she says.

“Our hope is that someone will be selected so that South Africa will have support from an ASM, and any future discussions will focus on how ade-quately the ASM works rather than on hypothetical concerns.”

She also expects the plenary to look at a recent document that tackles devel-opment in the artisanal mining sector, as well as “technical questions” regard-ing customs definitions and how the KP functions. At the Zimbabwe Diamond Conference, Ambassador Milovanovic and the US government were criticised for the current American sanctions against diamonds from Marange.

But Ambassador Milovanovic says her post has nothing to do with whether her country does or does not have sanctions. “Sanctions are a separate issue from the Kimberley Process,” she says.

“I do hope that the issue of Zimbabwe sanctions does not become an issue (at plenary).”

As Ambassador Milovanovic wraps up her time as chair, she hopes she has increased communication within the group. “We think we have done a lot as far as the website,” she says. “I hope my legacy will be increased dialogue, increased openness.”

Billionaires eye Zim diamonds

Sunday, 25 November 2012 00:00
Itai Mazire and Kuda Bwititi
Zimbabwe Sunday Mail

A group of Middle East and Asian billionaires has given strong indications that they intend to invest in the country’s diamond sector following projections that Zimbabwe has up to 1,8 million hectares of unexploited diamond reserves.

Diamond experts have already hinted that Zimbabwe gems will double world diamond supply by 2015 since Marange precious stones continue to attract some of the biggest players in world diamond trade.

The billionaires include Dubai Multi-Commodities Centre (DMCC) executive chairman Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem, who has close links with the super-rich Al Maktoum royal family of the United Arab Emirates as well as members of India’s “diamantries”, who are a clique of the richest diamond dealers in the world.

In an interview last week, ZMDC chairman Mr Godwills Masimirembwa confirmed negotiations with the potential investors had already opened.

“We are indeed holding negotiations with the investors from the Emirates although negotiations are still at an early stage,” he said.

Mr Masimirembwa said the possibility of huge unexploited diamond reserves in Marange is high.

“We estimate that there are up to 1,8 million hectares of unexploited diamond reserves.

“This is why we need investment to tap this resource,” he said.

Speaking on the sidelines of the Zimbabwe Diamond Conference 2012 held in Victoria Falls recently, Ahmed Sultan Bin Sulayem revealed that his organisation was keen on investing in a new concession in Marange.

“The DMCC is a coalition of several members and quite a number have indicated that they want to invest in Zimbabwe’s diamond sector.

“Talks are still at an early stage, but these investors are some of the richest people in the mining sector.

“We are also willing to assist Zimbabwe in their trade of diamonds.

“That is why we are holding regular talks with the Zimbabwe authorities,” he said.

Bin Sulayem said the sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe had scared away investors from the Emirates.

“It is only that the issue of sanctions imposed on the diamond companies has created logistical problems for some of our partners within DMCC.

“You know, investors are very sensitive about issues such as sanctions.

“Therefore, some members within DMCC are adopting a wait-and-see approach.

“However, we are facilitating the free trade of diamonds from Marange to the Emirates because Zimbabwe has become one of the major players in the diamond industry.”

The Sulayem family has been one of Dubai’s most prominent business families since the early 20th century.

Media reports indicate the majority of the members of DMCC comprises renowned companies dealing in gold, diamonds and other precious minerals.

Chairman of the Gem and Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC) Mr Vipul Shah said council members were targeting partnerships in diamond cutting and polishing.
GJPEC has over 6 500 members.

“There are high hopes in Mumbai where big players in the cutting and polishing industry want to invest in Zimbabwe and also bring expertise to the mining sector.

“Some of our members have already started holding talks with our Zimbabwe counterparts,” said Mr Shah.

No comments: