An Indian diamond consortium says it is moving to buy diamonds from the controversial Marange field of Zimbabwe with permission from the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme following months of wrangling over the terms for export sales.
The Surat, India, based companies said they will buy at least six million carats of Marange diamonds to relieve a serious shortage of rough stones.
This means an agreement between Surat Rough Diamond Sourcing India, a diamond consortium of 1,500 firms, and the Zimbabwe Diamond Consortium to purchase $1.2 billion worth of diamonds a year can now be implemented.
VOA was unable to confirm with Kimberly officials that Marange diamonds were cleared to be sold internationally. But diamond industry website IDEX Online News reported that a revised Kimberley Process agreement on Zimbabwe was approved by 17 members and outgoing Kimberly Chairman Boaz Hirsch issued a notification of the clearance.
Chandrakant Sanghavi, head of Sanghavi Exports in Surat, said rough diamond prices had been rising due to the shortage, and the Kimberley Process clearance for diamonds exported from the Marange field in the east of Zimbabwe will ease this.
"KP's clearance on the exports from Zimbabwe will put to rest the artificial increase and shortage of rough diamonds in the global market," he said. "There will be more work and more wages for the diamond workers."
The Kimberley Process last year allowed two auctions of Marange diamonds but the industry watchdog in November restored a ban on export sales amid concerns about alleged human rights abuses and smuggling of diamonds through Mozambique.
"If things move in the right direction then we will import the first batch of precious gems from Zimbabwe worth $20 million soon to start our Surat operations," said Ashit Mehta, chairman of Surat Rough Diamond Sourcing India.
Zimbabwe Deputy Mines Minister Gift Chimanikire says the Kimberley move will greatly benefit Zimbabwe, whose government is seriously strapped for operating funds.
Political analyst Joy Mabenge said however that the Harare government should still be pressed to address outstanding issues in Marange, including alleged abuses of the local population so that it can fully comply with Kimberley Process standards.