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KP okays Marange diamonds

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KINSHASA — An agreement that allows immediate exports of diamonds mined in Zimbabwe’s Marange fields was concluded yesterday in Kinshasa, the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The agreement follows a two-year crisis that threw governments, the diamond industry and civil society into a bitter debate.

According to latest media reports, members of the Kimberley Process (KP) convening in Kinshasa for an annual plenary meeting reached an agreement on exports from two of Zimbabwe’s controversial diamond fields after the United States voiced willingness to concede its tough stance.

The European Union-brokered agreement includes approval of exports from the Marange mines operated by Mbada and Marange Resources (formerly Canadile) and the appointment of two monitors: former monitor Abby Chikane and World Diamond Council (WDC) Technical Committee chair Mark Van Bockstael.

Exports from a third mine in Marange, operated by Chinese miner Anjin, have not been approved yet. The KP monitoring team is expected to visit Anjin within 14 days to ensure that it is KP-compliant and permitted to export diamonds.

The team will pay similar visits to any other new mine within 14 days of receiving an invitation, the WDC said yesterday.

According to the WDC, if the two monitors are in disagreement, the matter at question will be brought to the Working Group on Monitoring for recommendation to the KP chair.

However, it remains unclear if in such a situation the chair will have final and sole decision power.

For its part, Zimbabwe has committed to uphold the KP’s minimum requirements and report to the current KP plenary and the KP intersessional meeting in 2012 on issues related to identification of further investors, the regulation of artisanal mining, the fight against illicit digging and smuggling.

The new agreement will remain under constant review and will remain in force until the KP plenary meeting in 2012.

The three-day KP meeting was not attended by the non-governmental organisations (NGOs) that helped form the system. Partnership Africa Canada said NGOs boycotted the meeting in protest against KP’s failure to resolve the Zimbabwean issue.

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