The Zimbabwe government is taking control of the Murowa mine, traditionally controlled by Rio Tinto Diamonds, reports say.
Rio Tinto Diamonds did not respond to requests for comment. One report suggested the head of the division was visiting Zimbabwe, seeking “clarity.”
According to local and international news sources, the Zimbabwe government is consolidating all the company’s diamond mines into one larger entity that will be 50 percent controlled by the government. Rio Tinto has traditionally owned 78 percent of Murowa.
The mine produces about 400,000 cts. a year of larger white gem diamonds.
The new arrangement could possibly make Murowa diamonds subject to U.S. sanctions, which they are not currently.
“It depends on the structure, who is involved (both individuals and entities) and whether any of those are subject to sanctioning provisions,” says Cecilia Gardner, president and CEO of Jewelers Vigilance Committee.
In January, Rio Tinto warned employees that the mine faced closure, citing tax issues.