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  • Marange, Chiadzwa and other diamond fields and the Kimberley Process - Index of articles

  • Switzerland reject KP's certification
    Helen Kadirire, Daily News
    July 10, 2011

    Switzerland has rejected the decision by Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) Chairman Mathieu Yamba to resume exports of diamonds mined in the controversial Marange area.

    Switzerland is a significant player because it is one of the world's leading centres for the diamond and jewellery industry.

    The Swiss government said the "unilateral" decision by the KPCS chairman to allow the sale of diamonds mined by Mbada Diamonds and Marange Resources had increased confusion and undermined the credibility of the group.

    "In the absence of a veritable KPCS consensus, Marange diamonds in effect remain banned from international trade," Switzerland said.

    Three other firms operating in Marange are yet to get KPCS certification because the diamond monitoring group is yet to inspect facilities at the mining sites.

    Other players such as Murowa, in which global giant, Rio Tinto holds a significant stake, are unaffected by the KPCS ban.

    The KPCS is a 75-member voluntary diamond trade regulator involving governments, industry players and civil society formed to stem the flow of diamonds mined in conflict areas or used to sponsor conflict.

    The group controls over 90 percent of the global alluvial diamond market.

    Zimbabwe, which enjoys support from fellow African countries and major emerging industry giants China and India, argues that operations in Marange are KPCS compliant.

    The country says some KPCS certified countries such as the Democratic Republic of Congo (KPCS) experience worse conflict hence Harare will proceed to export its stones despite Western resistance.

    Civil society groups, Bread for All (BFA) and Zimbabwe Advocacy Office (ZAO), which are partnerships between Switzerland and Zimbabwe NGOs, say they support the stance by the Swiss government.

    BFA and Zao said the decision by Yamba, a DRC national, could tear apart the powerful diamond regulator.

    "All responsible companies and consumers of diamond and other mineral products have a responsibility to ensure that communities in the area of origin benefit equitably from the resources and are not subjected to rights violations in the process of the mining activities," read a joint statement by the two groups.

    The two organisations called on Yamba to uphold the rules of the KPCS, which works on consensus.

    Marange fields are already being touted as the biggest diamond find of the decade and could account for a quarter of world alluvial diamond supply if mined commercially without hindrance.

    India and China say Marange diamonds should be allowed on the market, which is starved of supply at the moment.

    But Western countries such as the United States argue that torture, beatings, child and forced labour by the military is still rife, a charge denied by Zimbabwe.

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