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Zimbabwe Attempts to Recover $45 Million Diamonds Seized in Belgium

FILE - Illegal diamonds from Zimbabwe are displayed for sale in Manica, Mozambique.

Zimbabwe has dispatched a team of officials to Belgium to try and recover about 500,000 carats of rough diamonds worth $45 million that were seized in Antwerp on September 12th following an attachment order obtained by South African-based Amari Platinum Holdings.

Deputy Mines Minister, Fred Moyo, said they have sent a team but he referred all questions to Mines permanent secretary, Francis Gundyanga, who was said to be in a meeting.

The dispute stems from Amari’s departure from Zimbabwe in 2010, when then Mines Minister Obert Mpofu cancelled its right to operate its Serui platinum concession on the great dyke, a range of hills that runs down the centre of the country, after the company had spent millions of dollars exploring it and identifying an economically viable resource of 18 million ounces of platinum.

The International Court of Arbitration ruled in favour of Amari in its $500 million lawsuit. Economists are warning that Zimbabwe assets will continue to be seized. Mpofu refused to comment and referred all questions to Mines Minister Walter Chidhakwa, who was not picking up his mobile.

Economist Prosper Chitambara of the Labour and Economic Development Research Institute said the seizing of diamonds is a disaster for Zimbabwe.