By Michelle Graff
Antwerp--The Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC) said it doesn’t have a firm date for its tender of rough diamonds from Zimbabwe’s Marange region, rebuffing reports that the sale started this week.

On Wednesday, Zimbabwe’s Daily News quoted Mines Secretary Francis Gudyanga stating that the tender of Marange rough would take place beginning Dec. 4--Wednesday--and would include 500,000 carats of rough.

But a spokeswoman for the AWDC told National Jeweler that they cannot confirm the date or size of the tender at this time.

 They “do not intend to rush things” and, if possible, will hold a tender before the end of the year, she said. If not, the sale will be held in January at the Antwerp Diamond Tender Facility.

Last month, officials from Antwerp and Zimbabwe swapped visits to discuss organizing a tender of Marange goods, a sale made possible when the European Union lifted sanctions on the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC) in September.

A number of non-governmental organizations criticized the move, claiming that money from the ZMDC’s diamond-mining operations were used to fix the country’s presidential elections in favor of Robert Mugabe, who has ruled the country for more than three decades. The EU “rushed” its decision to lift the sanctions, Global Witness said.

The Marange region is the area of Zimbabwe that deadlocked, and nearly collapsed, the Kimberley Process. Trade in rough from the region was banned by the KP in November 2009 due to reports of smuggling and human rights abuses and remained so until November 2011.

Though the EU has lifted its ban on rough diamonds from Zimbabwe, Marange stones remain under sanction in the United States.

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