The Canadian Jewellers Association (CJA) says the recent decision by the Kimberley Process (KP) to approve rough diamond exports from Zimbabwe is a step in the right direction.
“We understand the current KP is not perfect, but we are optimistic for a positive and more accountable outcome for the future,” CJA president and chief executive officer (CEO) J. David Ritter tells Jewellery Business.
“The CJA is pleased a consensus has been reached regarding Zimbabwe diamonds and the Kimberley Process. Zimbabwe will now be more transparent with their exports and where they go. With the United States being elected as chair for 2012 and South Africa in 2013, it will help put the KP back on track.”
The KP lifted the ban on exports from the controversial Marange fields at its plenary earlier this month held in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The decision brought a three-year stalemate to an end, and put to rest long-standing objections by the United States, Canada, and the European Union. The agreement calls for immediate exports from two KP-compliant operations. In addition, a KP monitoring team will visit other sites to verify compliance before allowing exports.
Some estimates put Zimbabwe’s stockpile of rough at $3 billion US.
Industry groups welcomed the agreement, including the World Diamond Council (WDC).
“This is a real milestone, and demonstrates categorically the Kimberley Process provides the framework through which the integrity of the rough diamond chain of distribution can be protected, while at the same time enabling producing countries gain to benefit from their natural resources,” said WDC president Eli Izhakoff.
However, the reaction from non-governmental organizations (NGOs) who boycotted the meeting said the agreement effectively let Zimbabwe “off the hook.”
“The integrity of the entire clean diamond supply chain is on the line,” said Alan Martin, research director of Partnership Africa Canada (PAC). “How can consumers buy a diamond this Christmas with any confidence they are not buying a Marange diamond mined in unquestionable violence? How can the industry give any assurances they will be able to separate these diamonds from the legitimate diamond supply chain?”