Archive for October, 2009
by Admin on October 30th, 2009
Lebanon and a number of other countries are failing to comply with international measures governing the diamond trade, a tersely worded report said last week. The Kimberly Process Certification Scheme (KPCS or KP), is a non-legally binding process sanctioned by the UN in 2003 aimed at certifying the origin of rough diamonds from sources free of conflict fueled by diamond production.
by Admin on October 30th, 2009
Kimberley Process members must act on the overwhelming evidence of Zimbabwe’s failure to comply with the minimum requirements of the rough diamond certification scheme, said civil society groups today, ahead of the Kimberley Process’ annual meeting in Namibia.
The Kimberley Process Civil Society Coalition, whose members include Global Witness, Partnership Africa Canada and Green Advocates (Liberia), warned that failure to make a decision about Zimbabwe’s status is compromising the scheme’s credibility and undermining chances for the successful eradication of the trade in conflict diamonds.
Since the discovery in 2006 of significant alluvial diamond deposits in Marange, eastern Zimbabwe, controls on diamond sector have been nonexistent and communities in and around the diamond fields have borne the brunt of a series of brutal measures to restore state control over the area. The authorities have failed to stop the military from carrying out abuses and profiting from the illicit trade in diamonds, effectively condoning – and perhaps even encouraging – the looting and attendant violence against civilians.
“What is going on in Zimbabwe is against both the spirit and the law of the Kimberley Process. At the meeting next week, member governments must agree to suspend Zimbabwe from importing and exporting rough diamonds,” said Annie Dunnebacke from Global Witness. “But suspension alone will not address the challenges in Marange: Kimberley Process members must also engage closely with Zimbabwe to ensure that promises of reform become a reality.”
“Zimbabwe must urgently implement recommendations made by the Kimberley Process Review Mission that visited the country last June,” said Susanne Emond from Partnership Africa Canada. “The authorities must demilitarise the Marange diamond fields, establish robust internal controls, and hold to account those responsible for human rights abuses carried out in the area.”
The lack of decisive action on Zimbabwe has also served to distract governments from other cases that require urgent Kimberley Process attention. A UN expert report on Côte d’Ivoire published this week found an increase in diamond exploitation in the north of the country, an area still under the military control of the Forces Nouvelles rebel group.
Conflict diamonds from Cote d’Ivoire continue to be exported in spite of UN sanctions and are laundered into the legitimate Kimberley Process trade through neighbouring states and international trading centres – including both member and non-member countries. As the Forces Nouvelles continue to profit from this illegal trade, the UN reports that elements within the group are re-arming.
Alfred Brownell of Green Advocates said: “Governments’ inadequate response to these cases has emphasised the urgent need for reform of the Kimberley Process. At present, timely action is consistently hampered by inefficient and obstructive procedure – this needs to change if the scheme is to fulfil its potential and its mandate.”
Campaigners highlight a number of areas where reform is vital:
• Governments should introduce explicit provisions that bind Kimberley Process members to ensure basic human rights in their diamond sectors;
• The consensus based decision-making process must be reformed in order to allow swift action and to avoid deadlocks;
• The Kimberley Process needs an independent statistical analysis, monitoring and research capacity that sets a high standard of evaluation, avoids conflicts of interest and ensures follow-up;
• The Kimberley Process’ commitment to diamonds for development must translate into concrete action, particularly in artisanal producing countries.
by Admin on October 29th, 2009
The U.N. Security Council extended sanctions another year that have long been imposed upon Côte d’Ivoire and warned that the divided nation continues to pose a threat to international peace and security for the region. The 15-member Council voted unanimously to ban exports of rough diamonds and to maintain an arms embargo. The Council pledged to review these measures again no later than three months after a free, fair and transparent presidential election is held. The schedule for an election has slipped numerous times since 2005, and is currently planned for November 29.
In a resolution written today, the Council called upon the U.N. peacekeeping operation in Côte d’Ivoire and the French forces that supports it, to fully uphold the arms embargo on the country. Independent military ‘zone commanders’ of the Force Nouvelles still control and exploit natural resources in the north of the country, providing both motive and means to sustain territorial control in northern Côte d’Ivoire, the report said.
Earlier this week a U.N. group of experts reported seven separate cases in which the government and the Forces Nouvelles acquired arms and related material in breach of the sanctions. It was particularly concerned by the systematic transfer of weapons and ammunition from neighboring Burkina Faso to the Forces Nouvelles-controlled north of the country, which may be linked to cocoa smuggling. The group also found the absence of effective border controls that allows rough diamond trade to continue from Côte d’Ivoire, and to extend, almost seamlessly, into Burkina Faso and Mali. There was additional concern that rough diamonds were being illegally exported through Guinea and Liberia.
by Admin on October 29th, 2009
On the eve of Israel assuming the chairmanship of the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS), Israel’s diamond comptroller Shmuel Mordechai reaffirmed that the country does not trade with rough-diamond-producing countries outside the boundaries established by the Kimberley Process (KP). Mordechai was responding to a United Nations (UN) report published this week that recommended that the Israeli government investigate the possible involvement of Israeli nationals and companies in the illegal export of rough diamonds from Cote d’Ivoire, the Associated Press reported.
Cote d’Ivoire is not a member of the Kimberley Process and is said to be the only source of conflict or “blood” diamonds in the market today. The UN is expected to renew its arms embargo and sanctions against Cote d’Ivoire on Thursday.
“We view the accusations leveled at us with severity and reject the accusations outright,” Mordechai said. “Israel has been a member of the Kimberley Process to prevent illegal trafficking of rough from the start and carries out the most stringent monitoring and enforcement necessary in its trade of rough diamonds.”
The annual KP plenary meeting takes place next week from November 2 to November 5 in Namibia. Israel has served as vice chairman of the KP this year in preparation for holding the chairman’s position in 2010.
by Admin on October 29th, 2009
Côte d’Ivoire has essentially been divided for more than seven years between the government-controlled south and the rebel Forces Nouvelles-held north, but now both sides are violating the arms embargo imposed upon the country, according to a new United Nations (UN) report. Diamond exports from Cote d’Ivoire were banned for funding conflict years ago and the UN is set to revisit the embargo, although its reconsideration of the ban was originally slated to occur only after a free and fair presidential election had been held in the country in November.
A report presented to the UN Security Council yesterday cited an absence of effective border controls, which have allowed rough diamond trading from Côte d’Ivoire to penetrate Burkina Faso and Mali. Another concern is that rough diamonds may be illegally exported through Guinea and Liberia. Furthermore, the government has not introduced the necessary regulatory measures to prevent the import or export of items prohibited by the sanctions regime, according to the report.
Politically, the government faces potentially violent opposition in the country’s south, which has prompted it to begin re-supplying some of its security forces with riot-control equipment and could prompt efforts to import arms and related material in the near future. The report identified seven separate cases in which the government and the Forces Nouvelles acquired arms in breach of sanctions. There was particular concern regarding the ”systematic transfer of weapons” and ammunition from neighboring Burkina Faso to the Forces Nouvelles, which may be linked to cocoa smuggling. Largely independent military “zone commanders” from the Force Nouvelles control and exploit natural resources, providing both the motive and the means to sustain territorial control in northern Côte d’Ivoire, the report stated.
The UN was instrumental in preparing the country for its long-awaited presidential election, which, in the wake of numrous delays, is currently scheduled for November 29. However, there is some evidence to suggest that the election date could be pushed back again due to logistical delays with the voting equipment. More than 6.5 million citizens have been registered for the polls and the UN Operation in Côte d’Ivoire is providing logistical support for the elections.Twenty candidates have applied for the presidential role through the Independent Electoral Commission.
by Admin on October 27th, 2009
As one of Africa’s major natural resources, diamonds are helping transform southern Africa and the lives of its people. Through diamonds, countries like Botswana, Namibia and South Africa have taken major steps to build a more prosperous future for themselves.
Diamonds transforming lives
World leaders have publicly recognized the value of diamonds for southern Africa:
Nelson Mandela: “The diamond industry is vital to the southern African economy” [17th November 1999]
Thabo Mbeki,: “We know that diamonds are a valued source of employment, foreign exchange, tax revenue, new investments and play a positive role in enhancing the overall economic well being of countries and local communities” [17th November 2004]
President Mogae of Botswana: “For our people, every diamond purchase represents food on the table; better living conditions; better healthcare; safe drinking water; more roads to connect our remote communities and much more” [7th June 2006]
President Mogae of Botswana: “We have prudently used the revenues from diamonds to build a modern nation and a vibrant economy” [7th June 2006]
President Mogae of Botswana: “It is thanks to diamonds…that we have seen our country transform from one of the poorest in the world at Independence, to the middle income status that it has now attained” [7th June 2006]
President Mogae of Botswana: “I urge you to continue supporting us by buying more and more diamonds because for us the joy of your celebrations with diamonds is also our joy” [7th June 2006]
President Mogae of Botswana: “There can be no doubt that diamonds have played a major part in the transformation of our country’s fortunes and the lives of our citizens…Revenue from diamonds has enabled Government to fund virtually 100% of basic education, provide virtually free healthcare, build the infrastructure that has supported our economic activity and to fund 80% of the anti-retroviral drugs that have given hope to our fellow citizens living with HIV/AIDS” [13th November 2006]
President Mogae of Botswana: [He finds] “suggested existence of African conflict diamonds, as opposed to diamonds illicitly traded from this or that particular area of conflict, unsettling… diamond revenues have, for the most part, been a welcome source of finance for improved education, health care, and social services, not only in Botswana but elsewhere on the continent.” [22nd August 2007]
by Admin on October 26th, 2009
We seldom think about how the diamonds we wear came to us. Natural diamonds, as opposed to synthetic diamonds or fake diamonds, are mined from the earth. There are currently two methods of mining diamonds: Pipe Mining and Alluvial Mining.
When pipe mining is used, the diamonds are extracted from the earth through volcanic pipes. These are not man-made pipes. These are natural pipes in the ground. Shanks are put into the ground next to the pipes, and
tunnels are driven into the deepest parts of the pipe. The diamonds are not sorted out at the mine. Instead, huge rocks that are full of diamonds are brought out of the mine and moved to a screening plant for separation.
The Alluvial mining method is done in riverbeds and on beaches. Walls are built to hold back the water and the sand on the bank or beach is moved with a bulldozer until the level of earth that diamonds can be found in is reached. Again, the diamonds are not sorted here. Instead, the sand that contains
the diamonds is bulldozed into trucks, and taken to screening plants.
by Admin on October 26th, 2009
Countries Work Together to Ban Conflict Diamonds
In 2000, South African countries with a legitimate diamond trade began a campaign to track the origins of all rough diamonds, attempting to halt the movement of stones from conflict areas, where the sale of diamonds is used to fund the unlawful and illegal operations of rebel, military and terrorist groups. Their efforts eventually resulted in The Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS), an international effort to rid the world of conflict diamonds.
The goals of the process are to document and track all rough diamonds entering a participating country, with shippers placing stones in tamper-proof shipping crates and providing enough detailed information about their origins to prove they did not originate in a conflict zone.
The goals of the KPCS will take time to achieve, but what’s already been accomplished is a beginning, and with more cooperation the program can have a huge impact on the trade of conflict diamonds.
by Admin on October 22nd, 2009
West African Diamonds has announced plans to expand via mergers and acquisitions and stated that it expects its Bomboko diamond mine in Guinea to reach full capacity by the end of the current year.
Mining Weekly quotes the diamond exploration company as saying that monthly carat production at Bomboko is expected to exceed 2,000 carats upon reaching full capacity.
The Bomboko diamond mine was constructed during 2008 and the first part of this year. Operations commenced in June.
Mining Weekly quotes West African Diamonds chairperson John Teeling as saying that current diamond grades mined at Bomboko are within the expected range, averaging 6.5 ct/100 t, valued at $116/ct.
The company noted plans to increase diamond production by installing an additional 16-foot pan processing plant.
Teeling said that in recent years, there has been limited success in diamond exploration which may well lead to a supply deficit.
He added: “This impending shortage is the opportunity for West African Diamonds. We are a producer of high-quality stones. We have known reserves, we are experienced in the industry, but we are too small.” This is why the company is currently seeking mergers and acquisitions in order to expand.
The Bomboko license reportedly contains at least 750,000 carats of diamonds.
by Admin on October 22nd, 2009
As implementation of the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme moves forward, the World Diamond Council (WDC) has published The Essential Guide to Implementing the Kimberley Process, outlining steps that firms in the diamond industry must take to ensure implementation of the new system designed to eliminate the flow of conflict diamonds. The guide was produced for the WDC on behalf of the World Federation of Diamond Bourses (WFDB) and the International Diamond Manufacturers’ Association (IDMA) by the J. Walter Thompson Agency.
The guide, intended for worldwide use by anyone who trades in rough or polished diamonds, is available for immediate download from the WDC website, www.worlddiamondcouncil.org. In addition, the guide is being distributed to members of the World Federation of Diamond Bourses, the International Diamond Manufacturers Association, and CIBJO – The International Jewellery Confederation, by those organizations.
The guide outlines the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme, which was adopted in November 2002 by governments of all of the world’s diamond mining, manufacturing, importing and exporting nations. The guide also describes the diamond industry’s self-regulation through its voluntary System of Warranties, designed to strengthen the Kimberley Process agreement.
The guide contains step-by-step compliance checklists for companies throughout the diamond supply chain, to include mining companies and rough diamond buyers in source countries, rough diamond importers, exporters, manufacturers, and dealers, and polished diamond dealers, jewelry manufacturers, and diamond jewelry retailers.
In addition to the general requirements of the Kimberley Process, there are individual national laws and regulations that the guide does not address. Companies should therefore also consult with their national trade associations for guidance on complying with various national laws and regulations.
For jewelry retailers in the United States, detailed guidance on supporting the Kimberley Process system is available on the Jewelers of America website, www.jewelers.org.
To access the new WDC guide, visit www.worlddiamondcouncil.org, and click on “K.P. Guide.” For those without access to the Internet, printed copies are available from the New York Diamond Dealers Club, the Diamond Manufacturers and Importers Association, the Jewelers Vigilance Committee, and Jewelers of America.
The World Diamond Council was founded in 2000 by the diamond and jewelry industry amid growing concern over human rights violations and atrocities committed against innocent victims in diamond producing countries of war-torn northern Africa. The goal of the WDC is to prevent the exploitation of diamonds for illicit purposes such as war and inhumane acts.