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Zimbabwe may sue De Beers over ‘looting’ of diamond fields under international ban

Zimbabwe’s state-controlled Herald newspaper reported on Thursday the Harare government is investigating De Beers over claims it smuggled out gems worth “hundreds of millions of dollars” from the controversial Chiadzwa fields.

De Beers spent eight years exploring the fields, but later claimed it had failed to find any meaningful deposits according to Zimabwe’s deputy mines minister. Diamonds were found by villagers in Chiadzwa in 2006, leading to a frenzied diamond rush that was eventually crushed by the army. Zimbabwe’s diamonds are the subject of an international ban although most industry watchers believe it is being widely flouted.

Eyewitness News reports:

Deputy Mining Minister Gift Chimanikire says the government may sue De Beers depending on the results of the investigation.

The Herald reports:

De Beers has always been on a collision course with the Government. In 1991 the then Ministry of Mines cancelled its diamond claims near Beitbridge following a two-year wrangle in which De Beers refused to market its diamonds through the Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe.

MINING.com reported at the end of June a the seemingly unilateral decision by the chairman of the international diamond trade watchdog to allow Zimbabwe to resume diamond exports has been rejected by among others the United States, Canada and Israel:

Some members of the industry body want to keep a ban on exports of Zimbabwe’s diamonds which could potentially be worth $2bn/year and include a vast stockpile built up during international sanctions, because of ongoing smuggling out of the rich Chiadzwa fields and reports of sustained human rights abuses there.

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