Pending approval of his board, World Diamond Council president Eli Izhakoff has said he plans to ask the United States and European Union to lift their current sanctions against diamonds from the Marange region of Zimbabwe.
Izhakoff made the comment at the Zimbabwe Diamond Conference 2012, which was held Nov. 12–13 at Victoria Falls.
Those sanctions were imposed by a 2003 executive order by former President Bush. Several sanctioned companies are linked to Marange mines. The Kimberley Process also blocked mines from the area from exporting diamonds more than two years, following violence in the area.
Zimbabwe president Robert Mugabe also appeared at the conference, and blamed sanctions for hurting the country’s diamond revenues.
“The diamonds have been marketed at depressed prices owing to a negative buyer perception resulting from these illegal sanctions,” Mugabe said.
Izhakoff’s stance won the support of Ahmed Bin Sulayem, executive chairman of the Dubai Multi Commodities Centre, as well as Ernie Blom, president of the World Federation of Diamond Bourses; both sent out statements supporting an end to the sanctions.
The conference drew more than 480 people.
At the conference, Zimbabwe minister of mines Obert Mpofu noted that Zimbabwe could produce as much as 25 percent of the world’s diamonds.