Ministers to inspect Marange mine

2010-08-10 07:53

Harare - Ministers from Africa's diamond producers arrived in Zimbabwe on Monday to assess operations at the controversial Marange fields ahead of a limited gems sale, officials said.

"The delegation will be going to Marange to assess compliance issues," Lovemore Kurotwi, managing director of Canadile, one of two firms operating at Marange, said.

The fact-finding mission comes ahead of a gems auction on Wednesday after the Kimberley Process global watchdog last month allowed Zimbabwe two sales after finding the country had complied with minimum standards for human rights.

"We have complied with the Kimberley Process (KP) regulations, but others were saying we are yet to meet the set guidelines. This visit is meant to see how far we have complied with the KP regulations," said Kurotwi.

The Kimberley Process had blocked sales from the alluvial fields in eastern Zimbabwe after documenting forced labour and other abuses by the military.

The Association of the African Diamond Producing Countries delegation comprises mining ministers from South Africa, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Angola and Namibia, according to a government schedule.

Also in the delegation are deputy ministers from Sierra Leone and Mauritania.

Issue of smuggling

Kimberley scheme monitor Abbey Chikane is expected to certify and examine all diamonds produced by the two companies operating in Marange from May 28 to August 1, according to government officials.

Meanwhile, the government has refused to indicate how many buyers will attend Wednesday's supervised sale or how much is expected to be raised.

"We are not going to name, or state how many buyers we have for Wednesday or how many parcels we have for security reasons," Thankful Musukutwa, mines secretary said.

"Other buyers do not want to be known who they are and we will respect that."

The ministerial delegation will also visit the border post with Mozambique to assess the issue of smuggling.