Imports of rough diamonds from the Marange Diamond Fields in Zimbabwe and gold mined in artisanal small mines (ASM) in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) have been blocked by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) on the suspicion of forced labor. The two items were on a list of five products from five different countries singled out for 'Withhold Release Orders' (WRO) which were issued "based on information obtained and reviewed by CBP that indicates that the products are produced, in whole or in part, using forced labor", the agency writes.
The Zimbabwean government has yielded to Chinese pressure and will restore Anjin Investment’s operating licence after finalisation of the new diamond policy, nearly three years after the entity was stopped from mining in Chiadzwa, writes the Zimbabwe Independent.
The decision to consolidate diamond mining killed the industry in Zimbabwe and government is currently re-engaging the Chinese companies that were operating in Marange to reach an amicable settlement, said Finance Minister, Patrick Chinamasa while addressing Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI). New Zimbabwe writes that according to the minister, the diamond mining sector is "dead" and is currently not contributing meaningfully towards the country's foreign currency earnings. "As of now the diamond sector is dead.
Zimbabwe has produced only 924,000 carats of diamonds this year from its Marange fields, or just a third of the 3.2 million carats produced over the same period last year, as court cases filed by miners against a government decision to expropriate their claims drag on.
Zimbabwe's diamond production has slumped by 76 percent since the government’s consolidation of the firms mining in the Marange deposits, the Daily News reported, citing information from the country's central bank. Rough diamond output dropped to 152,475 carats in the first quarter of this year from 639,377 carats in the same period the year before.
Zimbabwe's police have recovered the bodies of three illegal diamond miners and are searching for up to seven more missing people, a week after government banned operations at the Marange diamond deposits, a spokesman told Reuters. The bodies were retrieved from a shaft in Marange owned by Diamond Mining Company, police spokeswoman Charity Charamba said. "We have had to call in our sub-aqua unit because the area is waterlogged. We understand there could be up to seven people trapped," Charamba said.
A Zimbabwean court has ruled in favor of Mbada Diamonds to allow the largest diamond mine in the Marange diamond deposits to return and assume control of all its assets, thus overturning a government order last week to the nine mining firms operating in the area to stop mining operation because their licenses had expired. Zimbabwe's High Court on Monday ruled that Mbada should have full control of its assets, Reuters reported.
The Zimbabwe government cabinet has approved the takeover of the Chiadzwa diamond fields to be run 100% by the Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company (ZCDC) after mining companies failed to renew their licences. Mines and Mining Development Minister Walter Chidhakwa said their was no going back on the shutting down the operations of the mining companies, and said that they would not be welcome even if they made a U-turn and decided to join the consolidated company after all.
The news agency reports from the controversial diamond fields of Marange in gem-rich eastern Zimbabwe which have contributed virtually nothing to improving the lives of more than 80,000 people in the area. Due to frequent droughts, people in Marange had hoped the diamond industry would invest in reviving irrigation schemes, since national law requires mining companies to help local communities develop. Irrigation schemes in and around Marange, most constructed decades ago, are no longer operating properly as small-scale farmers cannot pay to maintain or replace aging equipment.
Rough diamond analyst Paul Zimnisky takes a comprehensive look at the current and projected output for the entirety of the diamond mining industry, concluding that "2016 global diamond production by-volume is forecast to be 137 million (M) carats, or +1.3% over 2015 estimates," despite efforts by De Beers and Rio Tinto to limit global diamond supply. Stable Russian production, new mines, and production increases by Dominion Diamond Corp and Petra Diamonds in particular, he writes, will serve to offset these efforts.
NewsDay reports that one illegal panner was allegedly shot dead while two others were injured when security guards manning diamond fields in Marange opened fire in the early hours of Christmas. Although Manicaland police spokesman Inspector Tavhiringwa Kakohwa professed ignorance on the matter, saying he had not been in office, NewsDay says that the police have since launched investigations. According to a local pressure group, Marange Development Trust (MDT), more panners were losing their lives or getting injured while trying to illegally enter the diamond fields. MDT le
In an unusual step, Zimbabwe says that it will make the Chinese yuan legal tender in the country after Beijing agreed to cancel $40 million in debts. Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa said the move comes as Zimbabwe seeks to increase trade with Beijing, and usage of the yuan “will be a function of trade between China and Zimbabwe and acceptability with customers in Zimbabwe." China is Zimbabwe’s biggest trading partner following Zimbabwe’s isolation by former western trading partners due to Harare’s human rights record.
The men reportedly drowned in Chiadzwa on Saturday after they jumped into a slime dam as they sought to evade arrest by security officers at the Diamond Mining Company (DMC) concession, according to a report in NewsDay citing the Centre for Research and Development (CRD). The rights groups said the bodies of the deceased were retrieved from the slime dam on Monday.
Kimberley Process Civil Society Coalition in Zimbabwe co-ordinator Shamiso Mtisi urged the government to consider registering the new consolidated diamond mining company on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange (ZSE) and cede some of its shares in a bid to plug leakages of the precious mineral. The Zim government had planned to complete the consolidation process of diamond mines in the country’s Marange area into one new company by March, in which would a have a 50% equity stake. Mtisi said the government should open up the process and allow other knowledgeable investors to come on board.
Zimbabwe’s Treasury has so far received nearly $260 million in dividends over nine years from diamond companies operating in Marange in which it has shareholdings, according to comments made to the country's Parliament by Mines Minister Walter Chidhakwa. However, Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa in April this year told a parliamentary committee that the Treasury has not received royalties — a levy based on production — from the diamond sector, especially Marange firms.
Diamond mining companies in Marange misrepresented their investment plans to the state and did not invest the amount of capital they agreed on with the government when the parties signed an agreement to create a joint venture that would be 50 percent owned by the government and the rest by the firms, according to Mines and Mining Development Minister Walter Chidhakwa.
Farai Maguwu, outspoken human right activist and director of the Centre for Natural Resources Governance, says that the Zim diamond sector is not thriving because government has allowed military people out of barracks to pose as miners in Marange. “We have left generals to come and pose as miners. We have sidelined the experts. If you go around the region you find the mining sector is being managed by Zimbabweans.
Eddie Cross, an economist and MP for Bulawayo South in Zimbabwe, traces the history of the Marange area, where De Beers discovered diamonds in 2000. In 2006, African Consolidated Resources (ACR) took over their claims and revealed the presence of gem quality diamonds almost immediately. Shortly thereafter, ACR tired to set up a joint venture like that between the state and De Beers in Botswana.
The Environmental Management Agency (EMA) in Zimbabwe has come under fire from Marange villagers who accused the state watchdog of doing nothing while Marange diamond miners were destroying the environment and polluting their water. Angry villagers blasted EMA for continuously fining companies in Marange for committing various environmental offences instead of closing down their operations. Villagers say the EMA was profiting from their suffering because it was not taking action against “environmental sabotage”.