The European Union’s representative in Zimbabwe said the southern African nation can resume exports of diamonds mined in Marange to the 28-member bloc after sanctions were lifted last month.
“They can start immediately,” Aldo Dell’Ariccia, the head of the European Union delegation, said in an interview yesterday on the sidelines of a Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries meeting in the second city of Bulawayo. A Belgian delegation of diamond buyers, cutters and polishers is expected to arrive in the country before the end of this month, he said.
The EU on Sept. 24 ended sanctions against the state-owned Zimbabwe Mining Development Corp., which operates five mining companies on a 50:50 joint venture basis in the eastern district of Marange. Advocacy groups including Ontario-based Partnership Africa Canada, have accused Zimbabwe’s ruling party of looting about $2 billion from the Marange fields, partly to fund the nation’s military.
Lifting sanctions is expected to boost Zimbabwe’s tax revenue by $400 million a year, according to the EU.
The bloc wants to ensure that some polishing and cutting of the gems is done in Zimbabwe so that “more value-added remains in the country,” Dell’Ariccia said. “Now we don’t have restrictive measures anymore against ZMDC, European investors and specialists can see what can be done.”
Zimbabwe is expected to mine 16.9 million carats this year, according to Mines Ministry estimates. Last year, the country produced 8 million carats, generating $685 million of revenue – Bloomberg