Industry held to ransom

THE international diamond industry is being held to ransom over issues related to ‘conflict diamonds’, according to South African stockbroker BoE Securities (Pty) Limited.

BoE analyst Hilton Ashton said the industry is being blamed for something which is essentially political.

A recent forum held in Kimberley, South Africa to discuss the issue was told that De Beers no longer buys African diamonds on any outside market.

The aim of the forum, initiated by the South African government, was to formulate proposals for consideration at a high level government-sponsored conference to be held in July in South Africa.

It is anticipated accepted proposals could be implemented by either legislation or self-regulation.

Conflict diamonds are defined as those which originate from areas under the control of forces in opposition to elected and internationally-recognised governments.

De Beers spokesman Andrew Coxon estimated the value of conflict diamonds produced from three African states involved in civil war at more than US$255 million.

UNITA, in southern Angola, produced US$150 million worth of diamonds, Sierre Leone’s output could be as high as US$120 million per annum and production from the rebel-held Kisangani area of the Democratic Republic of Congo was estimated at US$35 million.

The issue of conflict diamonds had so incensed the Angolan government that it had offered two companies the opportunity of marketing and selling its official diamond


One of these, Perth-based Majestic Resoures NL, has contracted to

market 10,000 carats of high quality gems worth between $3 million and $9 million annually for the Angolan government.

“Our impression of the proceedings is that the tail is wagging the dog,” Mr Ashton said.

He said the journals, Global Witness and Fatal Transactions, had highlighted that violent rebel forces were, in many cases, financed by profits from diamonds, oil and agricultural products and had accused the diamond industry of inaction on the issue.

“We believe that the actions of these organisations should be carefully monitored to ensure that the 96 per cent of the industry not associated with war is not damaged,” Mr Ashton said. “We support industry and government efforts to exclude all people using diamonds for criminal activities and financing war.”


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