Angola Extends Operation Against Illegal Diamond Mining and Smuggling

Mining and Exploration
14/01/2019 18:00

Angola has extended across the country what it calls “Operation Transparency”, which aims to fight illegal immigration, reduce diamond smuggling and reform the world’s fifth-largest diamond industry, Angolan authorities said in a statement. It is part of President João Lourenço’s drive to diversify the economy and reduce the country’s dependency on oil. The Angolan government was also said last November to have closed 279 diamond trading stores for not declaring their sales to the state bodies. The authorities also cancelled licences of 122 small co-operatives engaged in diamond exploration. On September 25, 2018, the operation entered what authorities are referring to as its 'third stage', which will cover the Angolan "maritime perimeter."

According to a source at the time, the authorities seized equipment used in the irregular prospecting of minerals, as well as approximately $75,000 worth of Angolan kwanzas, US$1 million and 944.520 South African Rands (approx. $66,000), plus over 12,000 carats of diamonds and 4,910 precious stones. Those numbers have risen substantially since November. The source also disclosed that in the ambit of the same operation, over 400,000 illegal foreigners who resided in diamond-rich areas had left the Angolan territory voluntarily, while 14,636 others were repatriated through administrative and judicial processes. Human Rights Watch said the immigrants were forcibly deported and urged Angola to suspend the deportation of refugees from the Democratic Republic of Congo as well as conduct a prompt and impartial investigation into alleged abuses by state security forces.

The decision to expand the operation was taken after the meeting of the Support Committee to the National Security Council to Combat Illegal Immigration and Illicit Trafficking in Diamonds. After having overcome "technical problems", Minister of State and Head of the Security House of the President of the Republic, Pedro Sebastião, said that in the 11 provinces where the operation takes place, the process will be intensified, aiming at its consolidation. The spokesman for the operation, António Bernardo explained that the fate of the seized means, among which 121,867 diamonds, to be evaluated, and 34 million carats of diamonds, will be decided by the courts.