UpFront

De Beers executives have been shuttling back and forth to Zaire in an attempt to keep their formal rough diamond marketing contract with MIBA, the state majority-owned mining operation. Other companies, including American Mineral Fields, have moved into to the country to try to induce rebel leader Laurent Kabila to throw them the diamond marketing contract. De Beers officials say privately that securing a contract with the new Zaire government is “important but not critical” to maintaining market stability because MIBA’s output represents only 15% of Zaire’s total diamond production by value. MIBA’s production totaled 6.5 million carats valued at $70 million last year. Zaire’s total production is estimated at 20 million carats worth $450 million. The remainder is mined “informally” by private diggers who sell their finds to licensed buyers – including De Beers – o
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