SURAT — Gillian Milovanovic, first woman to take over as chairman of Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KP), the international diamond trade watchdog, indirectly hinted at Indian diamond industry to stay away from rough diamonds belonging to Zimbabwe’s controversial Marange diamond field.
“The products (diamonds) from Zimbabwe are under US sanctions for undermining democracy and democratic institutions there,” said Milovanovic.
This is certainly not good news for those involved in diamond cutting and polishing business in the world’s biggest centre in Surat.
Milovanovic succeeded Mathieu Yamba of Democratic Republic of Congo , who faced criticism last year for unilaterally pushing for Zimbabwe’s clearance for resumption of rough diamond sales despite opposition from KP member countries from the West.
“There is an urgent need to redefine the term ‘conflict diamond,’ said Milovanovic, speaking to TOI. “I consider Zimbabwe diamonds as ‘products under sanction’,” she added.
After a two-day visit to the diamond factories and meeting industry stakeholders, Milovanovic hinted at some changes in the core objectives and definition of “conflict diamond”.
The $43 billion worth of Indian gems and jewellery industry celebrated KP’s decision to approve two mining companies — Mbada and Marange resources — to export diamonds from the controversial Marange diamond field in November 2011.
The long-pending KP approval to Zimbabwe was seen as a key decision to end the shortage of rough diamonds in the world market.
However, the US government shocked the Indian diamond industry by imposing sanctions on the same mines approved to export rough diamonds from Zimbabwe in December 2011.
Zimbabwe gems, believed to constitute 25% of the world diamond deposits or about $4 billion worth of annual production, are in high demand in India as they are low priced compared to gems available from other mining countries.
But, the diamond companies in the country are wary of exposing their links with Zimbabwe following the US sanctions on Zimbabwe diamond mines.
“She is not clear on her stand on Zimbabwe. She is KP chair and should take her own decision for the overall health of global diamond industry. Being the world’s biggest rough diamond consuming industry, we will continue to advocate in favour of Zimbabwe,” a top functionary of Gems and Jewellery Export Promotion Council said.