Zimbabwe’s state-owned mining firm is seeking an agreement to distribute diamonds directly to Dubai without breaking rules against the sale of gems from its Marange fields, it has been reported.
Chris Mutsvangwa, chairman of Mineral Marketing Corporation, told Bloomberg that the US may also get involved in talks over proposals that could also see the African country’s stones distributed in China.
Zimbabwe, the world’s seventh largest diamond producer, had an output worth $865m in 2012, and the country’s mines minister has previously said this could double in 2013.
Some sanctions on Zimbabwe’s diamond industry were lifted in 2011 under the Kimberly Process, although stones from the country’s Marange fields are still subject to trade embargos.
Gems from this field have not been certified as conflict-free, with activist groups claiming that sales from Marange are used to fund the security forces of Zanu-PF, President Robert Mugabe’s ruling party.
Dubai is said to have imported $408m worth of Zimbabwean diamonds in 2011, up from just $1.7m in 2008. Many of the stones that are brought into the emirate are for re-export to countries including India, Belgium, China and Thailand.
It is unclear what percentage of exports to Dubai are currently from outside Marange, and therefore considered conflict-free.