Kimberley Process Certification Scheme to decide on fate of Russian diamonds

2nd November 2022 By: News24Wire

The plenary meeting of the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) is under way in Gaborone, Botswana, until Friday and it's expected to decide if Russian diamonds should be declared conflict gems.

The Kimberley Process unites administrations, civil societies, and industry in reducing the flow of conflict diamonds - "rough diamonds used to finance wars against governments" - around the world.

Russia is currently leading an invasion of Ukraine and diamonds are a big part of the country's budget and economy.

Fears are that diamond revenue is financing the war.

The complete ban on Russian gems would be a heavy blow for a country that's already trading under the radar.

Outside Russia, Alrosa, one of the country's diamond producers, has operations in Zimbabwe, Angola, and Botswana. 

Alrosa is also negotiating with Sierra Leone for the possibility of mining gems there.

The United States, a major global market for diamonds, banned Russian gems in April providing a major boost for diamond producers in Africa. 

In a statement, the Kimberly Process Civic Society Coalition said the KPCS was convening in Gaborone "amid growing concern about the scheme's ineptitude to address the ever-evolving forms of conflict in diamond-producing and trading".

The coalition raised concern that communities across Africa with diamond deposits continue to suffer the resource curse and the KPC was not addressing the issue adequately, two decades after its formation.

"As the KPCS celebrates its 20th anniversary next year (2023), most diamond mining communities in Africa and the people of Ukraine will be counting lost human lives, environmental damage, and human rights violations caused by diamond mines or by states whose budgets are heavily funded from diamond production and trade," the coalition said.

The coalition says the KPCS's failures can be noted in ongoing complaints from communities such as Maluti in Lesotho, marginalised affected Koidu property owners in Sierra Leone, and communities living along the Tshikapa and Kasai rivers in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. 

The fate of the Jagersfontein community in South Africa, where burst tailings dams flooded and displaced communities, may be similar to that of many other diamond mining communities around the world, particularly in Africa, which produces the majority of rough diamonds.

The plenary coincided with the Natural Diamond Summit in Gaborone.

Speaking at the summit, Botswana President Mokgweetsi Masisi said, "To us as a country, diamonds are much more than beautiful, rare, and precious pieces of stones. They are the backbone of our economy."

It has been a good year for Botswana.

The country's Debswana Diamond Company owned by De Beers and the government of Botswana saw a 37.5% hike in sales in the first nine months of this year, figures from the government show.