VICTORIA FALLS — Mines and Mining Development minister Obert Mpofu has accused one of the biggest global diamond companies, De Beers, of looting the country’s Marange diamonds for over 15 years under the guise of exploration.
Acting Business EDITOR
Mpofu, who was addressing delegates to the Zimbabwe Diamond Conference on Monday, said the company had looted more than 100 000 tonnes of diamond ore during its stay in the Marange area where it was contracted by the government to ascertain the quality and quantity of the alluvial diamond deposits.
“In fact, my records show that they collected more than 100 000 tonnes of diamond concentrate and this was mostly alluvial, but they say they still want to find out whether they are diamonds or not,” he said.
“Even up to today, I have not got a report about what happened to our samples. In Marange, it doesn’t take two minutes to find out that they are diamonds, but it took them 15 years. What hypocrisy!”
He said De Beers was not entirely forthright about the prospects and viability of Marange diamonds. Mpofu said it was surprising that during the invasion by artisanal miners, the Kimberly Process Certification System (KPCS) saw nothing wrong as the diamonds continued to be traded on the international market.
“When we started to question De Beers’ role, within a day they had transferred the special grant to another looter and that looter because he was in a hurry to get diamonds, he brought 50 000 people,” he said.
“During the diamond rush in Marange, Zimbabwe was considered KPCS compliant, we were doing fantastically well.
“Ironically, our compliance fell off after the restoration of law and order.”
Mpofu said diamond companies had made history by making monthly contribution to the fiscus and the rate of royalties was the highest in the mining sector although the subsector was the youngest.
In the first nine months of the year, Mpofu said the diamond sector had accounted for about 45% of export earnings.