Zimbabwe accused the U.S. of ignorance after the U.S. Customs and Border Protection announced it that it is blocking rough diamond imports from the Marange fields because they were produced with forced labor, writes Ray Ndlovu for Bloomberg.
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 ongoing slump in the global diamond industry is having a negative impact on jobs in the expansive diamond manufacturing industry of India. The world's largest cutting and polishing centre appears to be heading toward an employment crisis, at least in the short-term. Estimates from industry insiders are that the diamond industry in Gujarat have seen job losses of up to 10%-15% already, with more on the way if consumer demand does not pick up in the near future.
Australian jewelry chain Michael Hill says it underpaid staff by as much as A$25 million (US$17.45 million) over the past six years, and will pay out a sum in the range of A$10-25 million (US$7-17.5 million) to redress its error. The Brisbane-based chain is the latest in a string of organisations to admit to staff underpayments, and will face questions from the Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO), writes the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC). The jeweler discovered the discrepancy on its own but did not inform the FWO about it.
Earlier this year in a cost-cutting move, Signet Jewelers, which claims to be "the world's largest retailer of diamond jewelry," asked its employees in Akron, Ohio and Dallas, Texas to apply for a "Voluntary Transition Program" out of the company. “Based on participation," the company wrote, "we may need to take additional actions including an involuntary reduction-in-force.” The message wasclear enough: take the buyout or risk being fired without one. Not enough people took the severance package and assistance in finding a new job voluntarily, and the firings have arrived.
Signet Jewelers, which claims to be "the world's largest retailer of diamond jewelry," is asking its employees in Akron, Ohio and Dallas, Texas to apply for "voluntary buyouts". The buyout program was communicated to all Akron employees (2,600) and 780 in Dallas in a series of staff memos issued a week ago. The announcement came as Signet, which operates more than 3,500 stores including Kay Jewelers, Zales, Jared the Galleria of Jewelry and Piercing Pagoda, tries to cut costs as part of its “Path to Brilliance” business plan, spokesman David Bouffard said.
Nearly one in five people engaged in India’s diamond industry, or about 100,000 workers, are said to be at risk of losing their jobs in the next six months, a representative of the Gem & Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC) told The Economic Times. “The diamond trade in Surat could potentially lose one lakh (100,000) jobs in the next two quarters due to the increase in duty, lack of ease of doing business and the liquidity crunch.
Last week, the Antwerp diamond industry learned that Tiffany & Co. was planning to restructure its manufacturing activities at its Antwerp subsidiary, Laurelton Diamonds, a move likely to cost 27 of the 30 polishers their jobs, while another six polishers from Antwerp manufacturer GemTech were also shown the door. It was unwelcome news for Antwerp's manufacturers, whose numbers have dwindled as a result of diamond polishing in low-wage countries.
Petra Diamonds Limited announced on Thursday that it has reached agreement with the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) with regards to salaries at the Finsch and Koffiefontein operations in South Africa and employees will report for their normal duties on 29 September 2017. A day later, Petra announced the Kimberley Ekapa Mining JV operation has signed the same three year wage agreement as that already signed by the company's other South African operations. The mine will now revert to normal operations following conclusion of the labour disruption.
As the company had already warned, Petra Diamonds is currently facing strikes from workers at two of its mines in South Africa prior to the finalisation of its new wage agreement for its operations in South Africa, the company announced in a press release. Petra confirms that since last night it is, "experiencing labor disruption at its Finsch mine and there is also disruption underway at its Kimberley Ekapa Mining JV operations." Reuters adds that members of South Africa’s National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) are on strike over pay, regional secretary Cornelius Manhe said, after mo
DiamondCorp, the UK-based South African diamond miner that underwent an autumn of misfortune including fires and floods at its Lace Mine, announced yesterday it will lay off all the mine's employees after a business rescue plan failed to result in a solution. The announcement comes after discussions between a mining union - the Association of Mining & Construction Union (AMCU) - and DiamondCorp's lender - the Industrial Development Corporation of South Africa (IDC) - ended without a settlement being reached on a collective agreement to allow care and maintenance to commence.
According to an unoffical email statement to Rapaport News, Lucara Diamond Co. expects that most of its employees at its Karowe Mine in Botswana should keep their jobs once a new contractor takes over operations.
According to a De Beers' press release, Gahcho Kué, the world’s largest new diamond mine under construction, "Will provide a $5.2 billion (C$6.7 billion) boost to the Canadian economy" according to the 'De Beers in Canada Socio-Economic Impact Report'. The report details the important economic contribution De Beers activities have made over the last half century and continue to make today. "The new mine, located in the Northwest Territories (NWT), is a joint venture between De Beers Canada (51%) and Mountain Province Diamonds (49%).
Citing a publication from The Associated Chambers of Commerce & Industry of India (ASSOCHAM India) - which together with the Thought Arbitrage Research Institute published a study titled "Gems & jewellery industry: Contributing to Make in India" - Rapaport News writes that, "Salaries in India’s gem and jewelry sector are half of those in other industries, according to a report that highlights a labor shortage driven by rock-bottom pay and dangerous working conditions. Workers in the industry earn an average of $3,
With a view to attracting diamantaires from other centres across the world to process their diamonds in India, the Gems and Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC) wants the central government to implement a 'job work' policy like that which is implemented in China, providing tax exemptions for importers and exporters of diamonds, and is preparing a draft policy to this end. The claim is that China's policy is the reason why despite labour being 20% cheaper in India, diamantaires from different parts of the world prefer sending their goods to China for processing.
GEMKonnect takes a look at the intial fallout from the 42-day jewelers strike that provisionally ended last week. One short-term consequence is that, "Jewelers in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, who reopened their retail outlets after the 42-day jewelers strike was called off, are reporting that they are unable to meet customer demands as there is currently an acute shortage of artisans to fabricate jewelry. The jewelry artisans, many of them daily wage earners, have reportedly returned to their villages as they were unable to stay in cities without any income.
Against the lavish backdrop of Baselworld, "the glittery industry fair, where the latest innovations in timekeeping are unveiled and gem-encrusted baubles from the likes of Chanel, Chopard, Patek Philippe and Graff tempt buyers from around the world," Kati Chitrakorn writes for Business of Fashion that all is not well in the diamond industry backstage. "Acute pressure has been mounting on the industry’s $80 billion diamond market.
The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) has graded the largest polished blue synthetic diamond that the organization has ever examined. The emerald-cut, 5.03-carat HPHT Type-IIB stone was made by New Diamond Technology (NDT), based in St. Petersburg, Russia. The firm is one of the founding members of the International Grown Diamond Association which was launched earlier this month. The stone was inspected at the GIA's New York lab last month and received a fancy deep blue grade, according to a lab. The GIA published an exhaustive article on the stone's characteristics.
Anglo American-owned De Beers has announced plans to cut 366 jobs in its South African mines as part of its retrenchment process. As part of its plans, the company will axe 152 posts at its Venetia Mine outside Musina, with a further jobs going at some of its other South African mines. The latest decision comes as De Beers plans to align its production in order to cope with a commodities rout.
Signet Jewelers Ltd., the world’s largest retailer of diamond jewelry that is headquartered in Akron, Ohio, said that it has eliminated 80 jobs across its Akron, Dallas area and United Kingdom operations that support its stores, writes The Akron Beacon Journal. “This was a difficult business decision but one we believe we needed to make,” David Bouffard, Signet vice president of corporate affairs, said in a news release.
In a press release, De Beers spokesman Tom Tweedy reassures the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) in South Africa that not only will the sale of the Kimberley diamond mine to Ekapa Minerals not result in job losses, but is the best strategy for extending the life of the mine past its anticipated closure in 2018. “Kimberley Mines is not being closed, but sold to Ekapa Minerals as a going concern. Being sold as a going concern means that the provisions of Section 197 of the Labour Relations Act will apply.
Mining Weekly reports that a month after De Beers Consolidated Mines (DBCM) sold its Kimberley Mines in South Africa, the National Union of Mineworkers’ (NUM’s) Kimberley Mines Branch demanded a review of the sale process, with a march planned against the mine sale on January 14. In December, DBCM sold its Northern Cape assets to a consortium comprising Kimberley-based surface diamond mining company Ekapa Mining and London-listed Petra Diamonds.
At least 200 workers were rendered jobless after a diamond unit owner was forced to close his factory due to the financial crisis and weak market conditions. This is the first incident of a diamond unit closing down post-Diwali vacation. Pre-Diwali, around 350 small diamond units had shut down in Surat rendering over 20,000 workers jobless. The closure of Sai Impex, owned by Mahesh Thesiya at Swaminarayan Nagar at Varacha, has rendered 200 diamond workers jobless. Industry sources said around 15% of the diamond units in the city have yet to reopen, even as Diwali vacation is over.
Three managers of the recently closed Laurelton Reign Diamonds in Namibia are taking the firm to court for being fired contrary to correct procedures. A total of 157 workers were requested to go on leave last August this year but were then called in for duty on August 20, only to be told that the company was closing down. Nathan Strauss, the spokesperson for mother company Tiffany and Co said the firings were due to high manufacturing costs.
The Surat Diamond Association (SDA), diamond merchants and manufacturers from the Mini Bazzar have formed a 21-member 'peace committee' following a series of protests by different groups that have disrupted business in the heart of India's diamond manufacturing center.
Growing joblessness and the slowdown in the diamond and ceramic sectors is fuelling unrest in the Patel community. Patels dominate the diamond and ceramic industry. About 40% of small and medium enterprises in Gujarat are controlled by Patels, who constitute around 15% of the state's population. It is no coincidence that the biggest Patidar (Patel) rallies over last two months and most violent protests last week took place in diamond hubs of Surat, Bapunagar in Ahmedabad and Amreli. About 450 small diamond units, mainly doing job-work for medium and big diamond companies, have shut down.
In the face of a commodities rout, AngloAmerican's revenues (-$3bn or -36% EBIT) are not the only thing being slashed, as the miner expects to cut 6,000 jobs in a restructuring effort. Anglo, which employs more than 150,000 people, said 4,000 jobs that are not operational — “people who do not touch product”, as chief executive Mark Cutifani put it — would be cut. A further 2,000 such jobs are set to disappear as part of the asset sales programme.
Administrators of the collapsed Ellendale Diamond Mine in Australia have told creditors they are owed millions of dollars. The mine, which produced about half of the world's supply of rare yellow diamonds, went into voluntary administration last week. Administrator Jirsch Sutherland told the meeting it did not yet know how much money was owed to employees, but $13.5 million remained outstanding to creditors.
The recent floods in Amreli have spelt disaster for the local diamond industry that was already impacted by the slowdown in Surat. While the natural calamity has left half of the nearly 1,400 diamond units useless, large number of defaults running into crores in Surat is only going to add to the woes of polishers who want to shift to the diamond hub. Many diamond merchants, reeling under defaults and factors like credit tightening, had already stopped sending roughs to Amreli.
Chinese diamond miner Anjin Investments has been ordered by Zimbabwe’s labour court to reinstate at least 1,100 employees it fired three years ago. Anjin, one of the seven firms licenced to mine the vast government-controlled Marange diamond field, began operations in 2009. The mine, which over three years ago claimed to be the largest producer of diamonds in the world, has been facing viability problems and is among diamond firms that have since 2013, reported diminishing alluvial diamond deposits in Marange.
Mineral Resources Minister Ngoako Ramatlhodi is deeply concerned about impending job loses in the mining sector and is making concerted efforts together with stakeholders to save jobs‚ the Department of Mineral Resources (DMR) says. A special task team has been constituted to assess the situation and provide advice to the Mining Industry Growth and Development Task Team. "The key mandate of the team is to explore ways and means of saving jobs through engagements with relevant mining stakeholders.
The Zimbabwe Diamond Miners Workers Union (ZDMWU) has said it will not be intimidated by diamond mining companies who are looting diamonds in Chiadzwa while suppressing their workers. Secretary General Justice Chinhema said ZDMWU’s sole objective is proper representation of workers in the diamond industry in pursuit of good working conditions, fair labour practices, wages and salaries and to ensure diamond industry workers have a say in extraction activities.
Workers in the diamond mining sector have formed a labour union to safeguard their interests, saying current legislation has loopholes that leave them open to abuse by miners. "Diamond workers have no job security and are subjected to short-term contracts even when they have been working for several years, in contravention of several sections of the Labour Act", said Zimbabwe Diamond Miners Workers Union (ZDMWU) president Francis Matinyare.