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Zimbabwe Govt. halts sale of diamonds from Marange fields, site of abuses

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Article
7 January 2010

Zimbabwe halts diamond sale, awaits monitor

Author: Nelson Banya, Reuters Africa

Zimbabwe's government on Thursday halted the sale of diamonds from its controversial Marange fields, saying the process would only go ahead under international supervision... Thankful Musukutwa, permanent secretary in the mines ministry...said the government and the KPCS [Kimberley Process Certification Scheme], which regulates the global diamond trade, were in the process of engaging a monitor to oversee the diamond sales... Rights groups accuse security forces of committing widespread abuses to stop thousands of illegal diamond miners who descended upon the poorly secured fields in the eastern part of the country and have been pushing for a ban on Zimbabwean diamonds... The government, through mining arm Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation, has partnered little-known South African companies, Core Mining and Grandwell Holdings, to set up Mbada Diamonds, a joint venture firm which is mining diamonds in Marange.

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Article
7 January 2010

Zimbabwe launches public diamond auction

Author: Tony Hawkins, Financial Times

In a controversial move Zimbabwe on Thursday launched its first public auction of diamonds from the disputed Chiadzwa diamond fields. The auction, announced by Mbada Diamonds, a joint venture between the government-owned Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation and a South African company, Grandwell... The Zimbabwe police and army have been repeatedly accused of serious human rights abuses [at the Chiadzwa-Marange diamond fields] with a detailed report last year by Human Rights Watch stating that soldiers ordered civilians to dig for diamonds at gunpoint, used forced child labour and raped women... Last year the Kimberley Process...sent a team to investigate... Although the Kimberley team called for Zimbabwe’s suspension, the organisation decided instead to give the country a grace period... The Kimberly stance has been criticised by human rights organisations and most recently by Ingle & Rhode, a UK retailer of ethical jewellery... Nicky Oppenheimer, chairman of De Beers, the world’s largest diamond company, wrote that he would have preferred more “decisive action” on Zimbabwe by the Kimberley Process. The fields are also subject to a commercial dispute involving...African Consolidated Resources which was given the concession to prospect for and exploit diamonds in the area.

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Article
7 January 2010

Zimbabwe’s commitment to conflict diamonds scheme still in doubt, despite decision to suspend controversial auction

Author: Global Witness

Global Witness today welcomed a decision by the Zimbabwean authorities to cancel a planned auction of diamonds from the Marange fields but warned that the country must take concrete steps to demonstrate their commitment to cleaning up the diamond sector or risk suspension from the Kimberley Process certification scheme... If the sale had gone ahead, Zimbabwe would very likely have been in breach of an action plan agreed at the KP plenary in November last year.

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