Friday, October 25, 2013

Officials of the Antwerp World Diamond Council Arrive in Zimbabwe

World gem bosses jet in for trade

October 25, 2013
Lovemore Chikova News Editor
Zimbabwe Herald

THE top leadership of the Antwerp World Diamond Council arrived in Harare yesterday to map out modalities for the trade of gems from Chiadzwa on the international scene, following the lifting of sanctions on the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation and its subsidiaries.

The AWDC is the world’s leading diamond trading hub based in Brussels, Belgium.
Zimbabwe had been unable to sell diamonds from Chiadzwa owing to the West’s illegal sanctions regime.

Belgium recently joined Zimbabwe in opposing the sanctions, culminating in the lifting of the sanctions by the European Union.

The AWDC’s high-powered delegation will be in Zimbabwe until Sunday and will meet with Government officials and stakeholders in the diamond mining sector.

The meetings are expected to come up with practical arrangements for the resumption of trade, map export procedures and regulations, arrange for the transportation of the diamonds between Zimbabwe and Antwerp and ways of stimulating trade flows in both directions.

The delegation comprises AWDC president Mr Stephane Fischler, chief executive officer Mr Ari Epstein, head of business development Mr Dries Holvoet, head of business intelligence Mr Mark Van Bockstael, manager communications Mr Karen Rentmeesters and interim head of public affairs Mr Geert Waelkens.

Other members of the delegation were drawn from the Antwerp diamond trading community, including some who already have business ties with Marange.

The AWDC indicated that the basic premise of the visit was to resume diamond trade relations with Zimbabwe.

The delegation had dinner with officials from the Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe at a Harare restaurant last night.

MMCZ chairperson Mrs Juliet Machoba said the delegation was in Zimbabwe to engage the mining sector on the marketing and selling of diamonds.

“The importance of the visit is that they are re-engaging Zimbabwe,” she said.

“From our interactions with them we have realised that they are confident that the trade of the diamonds will start.

“They have done a lot of work on the issue and the fact that they have come here is a good indication.

“As the MMCZ, we will discuss with them the issues that concern our mandate as the marketers of minerals in Zimbabwe and the issues concerning the marketing of diamonds.”

The visit is the first test case in the wake of the lifting of EU sanctions against ZMDC on September 23 this year.

The AWDC pushed for the removal of the sanctions as it angled to tap into the country’s vast diamond reserves that are tipped to command 25 percent of the international market.

ZMDC, the State-enterprise, is in partnerships with five diamond mining companies in Marange, whose operations have all been certified by the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme, a development that flies in the face of claims by some anti-Zimbabwe groups that the gems fell in the category of conflict diamonds.

The joint-venture mines in the Marange diamond fields produced a combined eight million carats of the gems last year and generated US$684,5 million in exports.

Of the US$684,5 million, Mbada Diamonds contributed US$308,3 million, followed by Anjin with US$209,9 million.

Diamond Mining Corporation contributed US$100,8 million and Marange Resources US$236 317.

The scrapping of the sanctions followed Belgium’s call for their removal in the wake of the widely-endorsed harmonised elections held on July 31.

President Mugabe and Zanu-PF romped to a crushing victory over MDC-T in the elections that were endorsed by the majority of local observers and all foreign observers.

While the United States, Britain and its dominions, Australia and Canada, have refused to endorse the elections, the EU as a bloc went ahead to scrap the embargo on ZMDC.

The divisions in the EU come at a time when the Government’s sanctions lawsuit against the European bloc is set for hearing in the Belgian capital anytime soon.

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