Diamonds from Zimbabwe’s Marange fields are being sold in the United States and elsewhere despite an American ban on doing business with the southern African country’s national mining company, Chinese miner Anjin, said.
Closely held Anjin digs gems in Marange, in eastern Zimbabwe, in a joint venture with the State’s Zimbabwe Mining and Development Corporation (ZMDC).
New York-based Human Rights Watch said at least 200 people were killed there by police and soldiers in a 2008 operation to remove illegal miners. Zimbabwe’s government denied any murders took place.
“We’ve seen our diamonds received well in the international market, which has seen business booming,” Munyaradzi Muchacha, an Anjin mine director, said yesterday in an interview in Marange.
“Our major clients are from the US, Israel, Lebanon and Germany.”
The US has outlawed trade between US companies and several State-owned companies in Zimbabwe, including the ZMDC, US embassy spokeswoman in Harare, Sharon Hudson-Dean, said in a telephone interview. The US, the European Union, Canada, Australia and New Zealand imposed sanctions on President Robert Mugabe and members of his Zanu PF over human rights abuses.
London-based Global Witness withdrew from the Kimberley Process, a body of international government, mining and civil rights groups, in December 2011, saying its decision to allow the sale of gems from Marange was “shocking”.
“Why should they politic and badmouth us? They should play politics in their own offices,” Muchacha said. “There are no human rights abuses here.”
The mine produced five million carats last year and could produce as many in 2012, Zhou Changhan, Anjin’s resident mine director said on Tuesday, through an interpreter.
Access to Marange is strictly controlled by Zimbabwe’s security forces and production statistics aren’t often released. Several mining companies from South Africa, China and Dubai dig diamonds in the district, all in joint ventures with the ZMDC. All of the companies are closely held.
Zimbabwe’s Finance minister Tendai Biti said Treasury had not yet received “one cent” in revenue from diamond ventures in Marange. Biti, whose MDC-T shares power with Zanu PF, said Zimbabwe should get about $700 million from Marange this year.
The Marange diamond fields were seized from UK-based African Consolidated Resources Plc under unclear circumstances in 2006.
The fields were subsequently divided between Mbada Mining, Canadile Mining and China’s Anjin, all of which have joint ventures with the ZMDC after the military took control of the area.
The Rio Tinto Plc-owned Murowa diamond mine and closely-held River Ranch Mine in Zimbabwe, aren’t subject to Kimberley Process scrutiny because accusations haven’t been made against them.