33 posts categorized "Conflict Diamonds"

Angola inaugurates first diamond polishing factory

Angola on Thursday inaugrated its first diamond polishing factory -- and Africa's largest -- with the backing of Israeli diamond magnate Lev Leviev, whose group last year opened a similar plant in Namibia.

Rising global diamond prices, limited supply and the end of Angola's 27-year-old civil war has sent exploration companies flocking to Angola, which is potentially seen as one of the world's biggest gem producers.

Southern African countries are working to establish cutting and polishing diamond factories within their borders to reap more benefits from what was once only a mining export industry.

Read the rest of the story at http://za.today.reuters.com/news/NewsArticle.aspx?type=businessNews&storyID=2005-11-03T150243Z_01_ALL354145_RTRIDST_0_OZABS-MINERALS-ANGOLA-DIAMONDS-20051103.XML

Diamonds may fund Ivory Coast arms trade

Cotedivoire A group of UN experts suspect cacao and illegal diamond receipts may fund arms purchases despite an embargo on Ivory Coast, a UN source said.

In a report prepared for the UN Security Council, the experts, who had been tasked with assessing the effectiveness of a UN arms embargo imposed on the West African country, recommend an audit of the Ivorian cacao trade as well as an investigation into the illegal export of diamonds.

The report fell short of establishing a direct link between weapons and the commodities, but the UN source told AFP that the experts "well suspect that a correlation exists".

Read the rest of the story at http://www.int.iol.co.za/index.php?click_id=68&art_id=qw1129968722873B252&set_id=

DiCaprio movie takes the shine off diamonds

Diamonds may not be for ever. Gem merchants are concerned that a new Hollywood film starring Leonardo DiCaprio and exposing the violent underworld of  “conflict diamonds” may dim their glittering reputation.

The Oscar-nominated actor has signed up to make The Blood Diamond, in which he will portray a smuggler embroiled in the civil war in Sierra Leone, where guerrillas systematically mutilate miners to enforce their grip on the west African nation’s export trade.

DiCaprio took the role after speaking to experts from Survival International, the London-based human rights organisation whose lobbying also influenced the rapper Kanye West to compose his recent hit single Diamonds from Sierra Leone.

De Beers, which has dominated the trade in diamonds since 1930, has expressed misgivings about the film, which will start shooting next spring.

Read the rest of the story at http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2089-1817184,00.html

Learn more about blood diamonds at http://www.diamondsourceva.com/Education/DiamondIndustry/blood-diamonds.asp

Digging for Diamonds

MURFREESBORO, Ark.-One hundred million years ago, a volcano exploded in Arkansas, leaving behind a legacy of diamonds.

Deep within the earth, gems were formed and were carried to the surface through lava. Now visitors from all over the world tromp to the crater to comb through the 37 1/2 acres of plowed land in the Crater of Diamonds State Park in Southwest Arkansas.

With the exception of a small visitor's fee, the park is the only public mining field in the world where people can search all day and keep whatever gems they find, regardless of value.

"We can't promise visitors a diamond, but we can guarantee them quality family time and a unique experience with nature," said Bill Henderson, assistant superintendent of the park.

The Crater of Diamonds State Park has recently undergone many enhancements for the enjoyment of park visitors.

The latest addition is a 3,900-square-foot Diamond Discovery Center that will serve as a gateway to the park's diamond search area.

"The new facility will enhance the total experience of diamond hunting. The building is more customer friendly," said Bill Henderson, assistant superintendent of the park.

The Discovery Center is designed to add to the visitor experience at the park by helping people understand diamonds and how to search for them. Exhibits include the diamond hunters' hall of fame and features information about the notable diamonds that have been unearthed at the crater.

Read the rest of the story at http://www.texarkanagazette.com/articles/2005/06/29/local_news/news/news01.txt

DiCaprio Seeks The Blood Diamond Role

Leonardo DiCaprio is in talks to make Warner Bros. dramatic thriller The Blood Diamond his next picture, says Variety. Ed Zwick (The Last Samurai), who will direct, rewrote the film with Marshall Herskovitz.

The African adventure is set in Sierra Leone circa 1999, a time when the nation was in the midst of a horrific civil war. DiCaprio would play the role of a smuggler who specializes in the sale of "blood diamonds," also known as "conflict diamonds" -- the precious stones used to finance rebellions, privateers and terrorists.

When the smuggler encounters an indigenous Mende farmer whose young son has disappeared into the RUF's army of child soldiers, the two men's fates become linked.

The studio is hoping to shoot "Diamond" early next year, so that DiCaprio can turn to another Warners project, For Whom the Bell Tolls. He is currently filming Martin Scorsese's The Departed.

Kimberley Process Has Difficulties Stopping Conflict Diamonds

“Five years after its creation, the Kimberley Process, the international diamond certification scheme, is still having difficulty stopping conflict diamonds from entering the legitimate trade,” claim the two NGOs involved in creating the scheme, Global Witness and Partnership Africa Canada.

The two say that diamonds continue to fuel conflict in eastern DRC and are playing a role in the conflict in Cote d’Ivoire, two countries participating in the Kimberley Process. And while official exports from Cote d’Ivoire were halted in 2003, the NGOs say they fear that other countries in West Africa, which are members of the Process, may be exporting diamonds originating from Cote d’Ivoire.

“There are significant problems in the collection and analysis of diamond production and trade statistics,” they say in a release, “which are essential to the detection of conflict diamonds. Some countries are failing to submit required statistics on time, while other countries submit poor quality data, or figures that cannot be compared with other countries’ data.”

“Currently, Bulgaria, Central African Republic, China, Guinea, Ghana, Guyana, Laos, Lesotho, Malaysia and Venezuela have outstanding, incomplete or non-compliant data. Tanzania has submitted no statistical data. The United States does not submit data that can be compared with other countries’ statistics, a serious problem because it is the largest diamond jewelry market.”

This, they conclude, threatens to undermine the entire scheme, calling for technical and financial assistance for member countries that are not complying due to limited capacity and resources.

Ian Smillie from Partnership Africa Canada is also calling for some sanctions against non-compliant countries. “There should be a standard procedure for removing a country from the Kimberley Process if they have failed to submit data after a 60-day period, and have been notified of this,” he said.

Since its launch, Global Witness and Partnership Africa Canada said monitoring is one of the Scheme’s weakest points, and they want to see all countries’ diamond control systems thoroughly reviewed and any weaknesses tackled.

“Countries that have received review visits should report back to the Kimberley Process giving information about how recommendations are being taken up and implemented,” said Corinna Gilfillan, lead campaigner at Global Witness. “Review visit reports should be made public to ensure transparency and credibility of the process.”

They also want to see the three-year review, scheduled for next year, carried out by a team of independent evaluators to assess how the process is working.

“It is important for Kimberley Process to have an objective, comprehensive external review backed by adequate resources and expertise,” Global Witness and Partnership Africa Canada say in the report.

Learn more about the Kimberley Process at http://www.diamondsourceva.com/Education/DiamondIndustry/diamonds-conflict.asp

Ploughing more cash into Angolan diamonds

With just about eight years life left in its South African land operations, Trans Hex, South Africa’s second largest diamond producer, is looking to replace and grow production.

And while the company may be able to buy some loss-making De Beers operations that fall off the table in future, the main focus is Angola, where the R1.5 billion company has already injected R458 million exploring what has been dubbed ‘elephant country’ when it comes to diamonds.

This has not yet paid off.. In the year to end-March 2005, Trans Hex made a mere R3 million operating profit out of Angola, compared to R363 million in South Africa where rand strength has hampered profits.

However R52 million, or 78% of the company’s R67 million in exploration spend for the last financial year went into Angola. This year it may be more, with group spend budgeted at R75 million and “most of that going to Angola,” according to management.

Read the rest of the story at http://www.mineweb.net/sections/gems/444927.htm

Diamonds Could Bring Another War!

The United Nations Mission in Liberia, UNMIL, has expressed grave concern over the rate of uncontrolled and unmonitored diamond mining activities in Liberia.

Reports monitored on BBC's African Network indicate that rampant mining activities are increasing in Liberia and that the proceeds might be used to finance a fresh round of fighting in this troubled West African sub region. There are fears that a war in neighboring Liberia might have a spillover effect on Sierra Leone. The UN observers have spoken of small scale as well as sophisticated mining operations by Liberians, in spite of UN sanctions against trade in Diamonds by Liberia.

The UN's fears could be justified in the light of recent developments in Ivory Coast, TOGO and, to some extent, Guinea, where there are real threats of instability, and dissidents in those countries might fuel their hidden agenda with proceeds from diamond trade.

It could be recalled that UNAMSIL in Sierra Leone faced a similar problem in Kono, when returnees mined diamonds indiscriminately just as disarmament was being completed.

The situation in Liberia is slightly different from Sierra Leone's in the sense that Liberia's ex- President and indictee of the Special for Court for Sierra Leone, Charles Taylor, is still in Nigeria despite calls from the International Community that he be handed over to the court in Sierra Leone for trial.

And recent reports of suspicious movement of ex-combatants to Ivory Coast via Liberia, apparently destined for Guinea, whose President, Lansana Conte, escaped an assassination attempt recently, make the matter more worrisome.

99.4% of Angola's exports are oil, diamonds

Post-war Angola is seeing a sharp rise in exports, which reached a total value of US$ 10.5 billion in 2004. The country however is deepening its economic dependence on mineral resources, and almost all exports are generated by the oil and mining sectors. Other economic development is lagging behind.

According to the newest statistics released by the Angolan government, the country's exports in 2004 totalled US$ 10,530,764,911, with oil and oil derivatives accounting for 91.92 percent of the total. Petroleum and petroleum products had generated nearly US$ 9.7 billion in state revenues last year.

Diamonds also in 2004 were Angola's second largest export commodity, generating nearly US$ 785 million in revenue. This equals 7.45 percent of total export revenue. The oil and diamond sectors thus totally represented 99.37 percent of Angola's exports last year, highlighting the country's total dependence on these two natural resources.

Other exporting sectors also mainly are related to natural resources. Fish exports totalled almost US$ 12 million - or 0.11 percent of total exports. Further, non-ferrous scrap metal accounted for US$ 4.7 million or 0.05 percent of total exports.

According to the governmental Private Agency for Investment (ANIP), there were few other commodities being exported from Angola. Other "miscellaneous exports" including wood, cassava, and shellfish accounted for the balance of total exports. The export data did not include coffee exports, ANIP informs.

Angola's exports of oil and diamonds are mostly directed towards markets in the North, including the US, Europe and East Asia. The relatively limited exports of food and wood products, meanwhile, mostly go to Southern African neighbour countries.

Read the rest of the story at http://www.afrol.com/articles/16248

U.N. worries about Liberia's diamonds

A United Nations panel said Tuesday Liberia's diamond trade is illegally controlled by a secret monopoly.

The company is of "unknown provenance and with no mining sector experience," said a U.N. Security Council report. The report said the company's official name is the West Africa Mining Corporation, with supposed financial backing from the privately owned London International Bank Ltd.

Read the rest of the story at http://washingtontimes.com/upi-breaking/20050329-060347-8962r.htm