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Resources Firm Seeks to Act on Ruling Restoring Rights in Zimbabwe Diamond Field

A company whose rights to develop the Marange district diamond field in Zimbabwe were revoked by the government in 2006 is moving to start operations there following a High Court ruling Friday upholding that agreement conceding the right to exploit the newly discovered alluvial diamond deposits.

High Court Justice Charles Hungwe ordered the government to restore African Consolidated Resources's right to develop mines in Marange district of eastern Manicaland province.

He also ordered the state-owned Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation to vacate the fields without delay so ACR could start operations, and instructed the Zimbabwe Minerals Marketing Corporation to return diamonds seized when its rights were revoked, and compensate it for related losses.

"It is hereby ordered that the ACR claims. . .within the area previously covered by EPO 1523 are valid and that they have been valid since originally pegged", Hungwe stated.

The government seized ACR’s Marange claim in October 2006 and allocated it to the ZMDC. ACR had held the claim for less than a year. Enforced by the Zimbabwean military, the seizure occurred after thousands of illegal diamond miners descended on the field.

The London stock exchange-listed company says it has lost some US$6 billion dollars.

African Consolidated Resources lawyer Jonathan Samkange told reporter Sandra Nyaira that the ruling means Harare has no choice but to open talks with his client about a joint venture in Marange.

The Harare government is under pressure from the Kimberly Process Certification Scheme to bring in a private-sector partner to develop the Marange field where serious human rights abuses are alleged to have occurred in recent years, including the murder of some 200 local residents by the military.

More reports from VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...