Zimbabwe diamond industry may face more trouble

 @ibtimes
on January 27 2010 8:07 PM

SURAT/HARARE (Commodity Online): Zimbabwe's diamond sector is facing trouble again in the New Year with a coalition of industry-based associations and representatives in the US met the state department and demanded tough action by the Kimberley Process against the erring miners.

They urged strict steps in implementing the joint work plan (JWP) designed to bring Zimbabwe into full KP compliance.

This may result in a shortage of rough stones in the market which will cause some trouble for the Surat's diamond polishing units, which are now recovering from the recession blues.

The JWP was developed at the last meeting of the KP in Namibia to address allegations of noncompliance and humanitarian rights violations by Zimbabwe in the Marange diamond-producing area.

Among other provisions, the JWP requires that diamond exports from the Marange area of Zimbabwe be fully examined for compliance by a designated KP monitor. No exports from that region are permitted until a designated KP monitor is in place.

The industry coalition consisted of representatives from the Diamond Manufacturers and Importers of America (DMIA), Jewelers of America (JA), the Diamond Dealers Club of New York (DDC), the World Diamond Council (WDC), the United States Kimberley Process Authority (USKPA), the Responsible Jewelry Council (RJC) and the Jewelers Vigilance Committee (JVC).

The industry also emphasized their interest in KP reforms, including establishing a permanent secretariat and changing the decision-making mechanisms within the KP to improve efficiencies. The industry also urged the US state department to more strongly consider KP enforcement measures for established instances of noncompliance.

A strong KP is essential to a healthy diamond industry, said Ronald Friedman, the president of the DMIA.  It is so important that KP mechanisms are seen to be performing well and addressing challenges in an efficient and effective manner.

Matt Runci, the president and chief executive officer (CEO) of JA and the chairman of the board of the RJC, said, The retail sector is committed to a strong KP - but the strength of the process must be clear to the consuming public. Continuing allegations of human rights violations in diamond-producing regions cannot be countenanced by the retail community.

Cecilia Gardner, general counsel for the WDC and president of the JVC, said, The successful implementation of the JWP will ensure that Zimbabwe is addressing the allegations of human rights abuses and noncompliance regarding production in Marange. The plan is robust and requires specific steps with deadlines for Zimbabwe to take to comply with their KP obligations.

DDC president Moshe Mosbacher indicated that The diamond industry must continue to work to bring Zimbabwe into compliance with the Kimberley Process since doing so would address both charges of human rights abuse, as well as prevent smuggling from that country's Marange area.

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