Zim diamond sector ready for scrutiny

25 Mar, 2022 - 00:03 0 Views
Zim diamond sector  ready for scrutiny

eBusiness Weekly

Michael Tome

IN less than two months, Zimbabwe’s diamond sector will be under the Kimberly Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) binoculars – trying to evaluate the country’s level of compliance to best practice guidelines of the mining and trading of gems.

The country’s last KPCS review was made in 2012 and the upcoming review is an opportunity for the Zimbabwe diamond industry to showcase advances that have been made since then in terms of processes compliance.

The preceding review process flagged issues around social and governance matters particularly adherence to KPCS certification requirements, environmental issues, clarity on diamond companies’ internal controls, observance to import and export controls as well as transparency on production and trade statistics.

The Kimberly process comprises three pillars consisting of Government, Civil Society Organisations (CSO) and diamond mining companies. It is against that background that Zimbabwe’s diamond companies and stakeholders in the sector on Wednesday convened to evaluate the country’s compliance levels ahead of KPCS review in May this year.

The local diamond sector is expected to contribute US$1 billion to the envisioned US$12 billion economies through mining by 2023.

This convention came at a time when the Mines and Mineral Development Ministry, is running a pre-assessment exercise across the industry to evaluate the sector’s performance according to a developed checklist that is used to gauge the industry’s state of compliance to the KPCS review.

The process is governed by a number of guidelines that include, the diamond sector needs to ensure that there is stakeholder engagement with communities they operate in, a position that seeks to resolve legacy issues between producers and their host communities.

Previously communities in the Marange area, ARDA Transau, and Sese communal lands, have raised issues concerning Community Share Ownership Trust (CSOT) and on environmental matters. The last review also reported on the deterioration of water quality in the Marange rivers since the start of the Marange diamond operations.

However, according to the KPCS focal person in Zimbabwe, Arnold Mukombachoto, a lot of work has been done by the miners and civil society organisations in ensuring a better standard of living for the host communities.

According to Mukombachoto, the country has been compliant to the KPCS requirements, which call for each Kimberly process participant to accompany their shipment of rough diamonds with a KPCS certificate issued on time of every export.

In 2012 the KPCS report, concerns were raised calling for the improvement of internal controls which encompassed lack of perimeter fencing and inadequacy of security systems as well as reported incidences of illegal panners. The KP focal person has since acknowledged significant improvement in security systems.

It also recommended for clear working procedures during import and export of diamond parcels as well as manning of the ports of exit, particularly by security authorities and ZIMRA.

Addressing stakeholders at the KPCS assessment awareness workshop in Harare, KPCS focal person, Mukombachoto, who is also the Deputy Director Gold PGMs and Gemstones in the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development, said the scheduled review presents a platform for the Zimbabwean government and stakeholders to demonstrate improvements that have been attained so far.

“The upcoming review visit is an opportunity for the Zimbabwe diamond industry and all players, miners, community and government to showcase the commendable strides taken since 2012 towards process compliance.

“As we were going around as Kimberly process technical committee, we noticed that there was a very significant improvement in security systems that are being currently used by diamond mines. The current example is the significant use of drones to monitor vast expanses of claims that are there,” said Mukombachoto.

He indicated that the pre-assessment exercise ahead of the scheduled KPCS review had necessitated engagements amongst diamond sector stakeholders in order to come up with an overall sector that is compliant with the dictates of the monitoring body.

“The exercise has brought together the diamond players, which will enhance industry self-regulation. We have arranged for an initiative where one producer can visit the other producer and see their level of compliance and encourage each other so that we are all compliant as a sector than individual companies.

“Continued cooperation between the three pillars of the KPCS leads to a more coherent diamond sector and will contribute to the achievement of a robust diamond sector,” he added.

According to Mukombachoto, it is the requirement of the KPCS for the sector to provide quarterly, half-yearly annual production, and trade statistics which are then uploaded on the website.

He also pointed out that export and import statistics from the designated exporting authority, Mineral Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe (MMCZ) should tally, production export, and whatever stockpiles in mines, as it is a requirement of the Kimberly process that figures should always be similar.

“There have been annual reports submitted all the way from 2012, the requirement is that the visiting team can check on our compliance,” said Mukombachoto.

KPCS statutes also require that member states be reviewed after every five years by other member states (peer review), to appraise on progress made with reference to a provided checklist that is used as a guide.

Speaking at the same event Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company (ZCDC), public relations and community development manager, Sugar Chagonda, indicated that his company was carrying out mining operations with active involvement and respect to all stakeholders.

“We are driven by a three horizons approach, which entails mining responsibly to ensure the improvement of the quality of lives of people in the various tiers and the country at large as well as ensuring capacitation and funding of future programmes of exploration and evaluation,” said Mr Chagonda.

Anjin Investments deputy general manager, Dr Hesphina Rukato, highlighted that her company although being accused in the past of being ignorant to the plight of the host communities, had stepped up efforts to recognise the security and human rights of locals.

“Anjin has been accused of not engaging in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) activities and not being inclusive. As Anjin and ZCDC, we have moved to hold meetings with the community to discuss security and human rights issues,” said Dr Rukato.

RioZim Murowa Mine superintendent commercial and sorting, Mollyn Dengende, emphasised the importance of security systems, indicating that diamond was a high-value commodity that required to be handled with maximum safety.

“Diamonds are relatively small yet an extremely high-value product and represent immediate worth and they should be controlled carefully hence security systems should be put in place to enable the diamond industry to curb and plug any leakage, ensuring that extracted value is only to intended beneficiaries.

Security is undeniably and understandably a priority in the diamond industry,” she said.

The KPCS is a commitment to remove conflict diamonds from the global supply chain and presently its participants are credited to have actively prevented 99.8 percent of the worldwide trade in illicit diamonds.

Zimbabwe is currently the Vice-Chair of the KPCS after being selected at the annual plenary meeting last year.

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