Antwerp--Representatives from Zimbabwe paid a visit to Antwerp this week to discuss organizing a sale of rough diamonds from the country’s Marange region before the end of 2013.

The Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC) reported Tuesday that it is hosting a delegation of representatives from the Zimbabwean government and two mining companies, the Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe (MMCZ) and the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC), in Antwerp.

The visit is the result of meetings between Zimbabwean ministers, representatives of the local diamond mining industry and an AWDC delegation that took place in the Zimbabwean capital of Harare two weeks ago.

Among other issues, the AWDC, ZMDC and MMCZ are discussing the organization of the first Marange diamond tender, with plans on holding the sale in the next two months.

Debate over diamonds from Zimbabwe’s Marange region is the issue that deadlocked the Kimberley Process (KP) for two years. Trade in rough from the region was banned in November 2009 after reports of smuggling and human rights abuses emerged and remained so until November 2011. 

Even after the KP ban was lifted, diamonds mined by the companies that operate in this region still were under sanction by the European Union (EU) and the United States.

Urged by representatives from Belgium, the EU opted to lift its sanctions on the ZMDC in September.

The AWDC said the trading of Marange diamonds on the European market, which now is legal, is a positive step, noting that the “combination of solid transparency, accountability and potentially increased mining revenues will contribute to the sustainable social and economic development of Zimbabwe.”

Zimbabwe Minister of Mines and Mining Development Walter Chidhakwa said during a speech at the AWDC event in Harare that, beyond meeting KP’s requirements, he wants Zimbabwe diamonds to have the same level of transparency as those mined elsewhere in the world.

While the EU lifted its sanctions on Zimbabwe, trade in Marange diamonds remains banned in the U.S. due to sanctions enforced by the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control.

Jewelers of America urges retailers to exercise due diligence with their suppliers to ensure they are not dealing in Marange stones.

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