Responding to claims by illegal diamond miners searching for stones outside De Beers' property in Kimberley, South Africa, that De Beers is a willing buyer of their diamonds, Corporate Communication Manager Tom Tweedy yesterday denied any involvement on the part of the company, emphasising that the purchase or sale of such diamonds would be in violation of the Kimberley Process (KP). The denial was issued in response to an article by a leading South African online news agency, IOL, claiming that "illegal diamond mining is booming" in Kimberley, as "thousands of desperate community members converge on the outskirts of Kimberley in search of their fortune. In September 2014, hundreds of miners started setting up their own diamond mining operations in the area after they were apparently kicked out of a neighbouring De Beers mining site just outside the city. The number of illegal miners in the area has now swelled to thousands and more arrive almost every day."
One miner explained that there was no shortage of willing buyers who were only a phone call away. “If I find something, I have a number that I can call and a man with the paperwork will come and to see me, but I still prefer to sell to De Beers because they pay better,” he claimed. “De Beers also do not mind what we do as long as we do not mine on their property.” In response, Tweedy said, "The illicit trade of diamonds is a major problem and we would like to know who is making these transactions. This mining is not taking place on De Beers property and any company that abides by the KP would want nothing to do with this kind of illegal activity. Nobody may mine without the required permits and the Department of Mineral Resources (DMR) is very supportive of this. To be involved in illegal activities of this nature undermines the whole industry,” Tweedy added.