Asking if it should really take 15 years for such an experienced company as De Beers to conclude that Marange fields diamonds were of no value to them, Charamba commented on the fact that De Beers hurriedly pulled out and claimed ‘the diamonds were not of commercial value’ when his government tried to arrest them.
He stated ‘It is not a secret that alluvial diamonds are mined at the surface. It is not like a kimberlite.’
On behalf of De Beers, Andrew Bone told Business Week by phone from London that “We only did core sampling. The deposits we found there did not fit into our portfolio, adding that “there is no evidence of De Beers mining diamonds in that area,” which of course there wouldn’t be if they are mined on the surface!
Chiadzwa is one of the world’s most controversial diamond fields and has generated reports of gross human rights abuses against illegal miners by the soldiers sent to guard the fields after the British firm, ACR, left. So whether there was a 15 year broad daylight robbery or human rights abuses, it appears that De Beers must have had an important interest in the area to compromise their reputation by remaining.
Human rights groups have been pushing for a ban on Zimbabwean diamonds, but the Kimberley Process (KP) declined to suspend the country and instead gave Harare a June 2010 deadline to make reforms in order to comply with the regulations of the KP, the diamond industry’s worldwide watchdog.