Zimbabwe Diamond Sale Controversy

ACR, which last year got a court order to return to the Marange diamond fields where it had been evicted, still claims title to the mining fields.

“Those are our diamonds. Anyone buying them must know that they are trading in stolen diamonds.  We are placing an advert in the press to that effect,” the company’s lawyer, Jonathan Samkange, said at the start of the auction in Harare on Thursday.

The Zimbabwe government announced that it will start auctioning diamonds from the controversial Marange fields this week, as it moved to curb illegal trade and comply with international standards.

“This inaugural sale will be followed by a similar sale of another 300,000 carats next week, following about a month of mining operations at Mbada’s Marange diamond fields,” Mbada Diamonds chairman, Robert Mhlanga said about the Thursday auction.

Mbada Diamonds is a joint venture firm which is mining diamonds in Marange composed of government-owned Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation, has partnered little-known South African companies, Core Mining and Grandwell Holdings.

 Mhlanga said that international diamond buyers from the Americas, Europe Asia and Africa would take part in the auction where 80 percent of the proceeds would go to the cash-strapped government.

“The entire process of mining, transportation and marketing is being done in compliance with the requirements of the Kimberley Process,” he said.

Kimberley Process Certification Scheme regulates world’s diamond trade.

International rights groups have been pushing for a ban on Zimbabwean diamonds accusing its army, police and other security forces of committing atrocities in a bid to stop illegal diamond mining in the poorly secured fields in Marange about 400 km east of Harare.