Diamond Groups Split on Kimberley Process Deadlock

In a departure from the general industry unanimity on social
issues, diamond groups had varied reactions to the Kimberley
Process’ recent stalemate on Marange exports.

The World Diamond Council, which represents the industry
before the Kimberley Process, made it clear that, although KP
chairman Matheiu Yamba authorized exports from the region,
the group doesn’t
consider the issue settled.

“The WDC urges all members of the trade to deal only in
rough diamonds that are accompanied by KP certificates that comply with the
consensus decisions of the Kimberley Process,” said a statement.

De Beers spokeswoman Lynette Gould told JCK that the company’s clients should, for now, steer clear of
goods from the region.

“Until we get more clarity on the situation, [our] advice to
clients is to exercise caution on Marange goods,” she said.

A statement from the Canadian government also said it was
urging local industry against trade in the disputed gems.

“The [Chairman’s] notice was issued in contravention of rules and
procedures of the Kimberley Process,” declared a statement from John Baird,
Canada’s foreign affairs minister. “In light of the Zimbabwean military’s
brutal crackdown on miners in December 2008, Canada continues to call for
supervised exports from two Marange mines and a credible monitoring
arrangement. Without these systems in place, Canada refuses to go along with
the plan to certify Zimbabwe’s diamonds.”

However, the World Federation of Diamond Bourses rapped
non-government groups for the impasse.

Referring to the decision by NGOs to leave the meeting, WFDB
president Avi Paz said in a statement: “By walking out of the house, and by
upending the discussions, some members clearly do not realize the enormous
negative and, I fear, disastrous impact their conduct has and will have on the
entire diamond supply pipeline.”

“Millions of people, both in Zimbabwe, as well as in
the major diamond manufacturing centers, such as India, who do not have any
other means of income, are affected directly and soon enough the industry at
large will fall victim to the lack of resolve of the KP,” Paz said.

A news release from India’s Gems and Jewellery Export
Promotion Council struck a similar note.

“We decry the divisions that are stopping the rightful
exports from compliant mines in Marange,” said a statement signed by GJEPC
chairman Rajiv Jain. 

The WDC expressed confidence that a solution to the nearly
year-long impasse will eventually be found.

“I do not feel that we reached a dead end,” said WDC
president Eli Izhakoff in the group’s statement. “Progress was made, but we
simply ran out of time. Despite their reservations about the KP chair’s
declaration, the U.S., E.U., Canada, and Australia all expressed continuing
support for KP and stated their intention to continue searching for consensus,
as did the representatives of civil society.”

The key question is whether governments sympathetic to
Zimbabwe will allow Marange exports, as South
Africa is reported to have done
in the run-up to the meeting.
According to the Israel
Diamond Institute
, Israel’s diamond controller has made
it clear the country won’t accept Marange exports in the absence of consensus.

Representatives of the South African, Chinese, and Indian
governments did not respond to inquiries from JCK.