Zimbabwe warns SA diamond giant De Beers

Posted on Monday, 10 October 2011 15:15

The Zimbabwean has warned that it will take legal action against South African mining giant De Beers on allegations of smuggling more than 1 000 tonnes of diamond concentrate out of the country for 15 years.

“De Beers is an international looter. They exported not hundreds of tonnes of diamonds but thousands of tonnes. We are going to take legal action” Mines Minister Obert Mpofu said.

However, no time frame has been set for the suit.

Mpofu said his ministry has records that indicate that “for 15 years De Beers was taking the diamonds everyday out of the country and all those diamonds are not accounted for”.

Official documents from Mpofu reveal that the company exported more than 1 000 tonnes of diamonds under the pretext that it was still exploring for the gems.

De Beers was granted 47 Exclusive Prospecting Orders (EPOs) in March 1996. Of these EPOs, 13 were in Chipinge District and the remainder in Chimanimani, which are located in the eastern part of Zimbabwe.

A request to renew the EPO was lodged with the Mining Affairs Board and was granted in March 2002.

The documents also show that in 1996, De Beers exported 32 tonnes of rock samples of cemented diamonds, 608 tonnes of drill core and 64 tonnes of soil samples.

In 1997, it collected 16 tonnes of soil sample and 53 tonnes of rock samples. Eighty eight tonnes of crushed rock were collected and exported in 1998, while 228 tonnes of the same were exported in 1999.

In 2000, the company exported 38 tonnes of crushed rock. In 2003, 150kg of exploration samples were exported while rock samples amounting to 761kg and 100kg concentrate were exported in 2004.

In 2005, 262kg of concentrate (64kg of which were exported in trunks and 111 895kg in drums) as well as 1 318kg of rock samples were exported.

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