Global Policy Forum

Diamond Miners in Congo Seek

Post Express
May 30, 2000

D A consortium to mine diamonds in the war-torn Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is seeking a listing on the London Stock Exchange, report said last week. The reports said that the move would be a major test of a British drive against "conflict diamonds."

Africa Confidential reported that the company, Oryx Diamonds is to be launched on the London Stock Exchange on June 13, in partnership with the governments of Democratic Republic of Congo and Zimbabwe. It added that the launch would be "a major test of market sentiment" towards British government attempts to persuade buyers to shun "conflict diamonds" used to finance rebel fighting.

The Financial Times said that the company, registered in the Cayman Islands, had concessions worth an estimated one billion dollars (1.1 billion euros). It said the planned listing would "trigger questions about the extent to which diamonds may be fuelling wars in Africa."

However, the London Stock Exchange said it had not yet received a 10- day announcement in which companies list details of a flotation, and said it could not comment.

Africa Confidential quoted the proposed directors of Oryx Diamonds as saying they had no involvement with conflict diamonds and disputing that their diamond concessions in Democratic Republic of Congo were in a war zone.

But the report said that if the application succeeded, the Oryx deal would give "a financial lifeline to the beleguered governments in Kinshasa and Harare in their military efforts against the three Ugandan and Rwandan backed rebel movements which currently control the east and north-west of Congo."

Britain has spearheaded attempts to get the issue of how to combat "conflict diamonds" on to the agenda of the G8 leading industrialised nations in July in Okinawa, Japan.

A foreign office spokesman said: "We're actively working on pushing very hard to get it onto the agenda. if we get G8 backing, we will have the endorsement of the most powerful richest countries." Referring to Friday's news reports, he said it was up to the relevant British authorities to decide whether Oryx should be listed. "It's one more piece of evidence of the complexity of the diamond issue," he added.

British Foreign Secretary, Robin Cook has sought in talks with his Russian counterpart Igor Ivanov to enlist the support of Russia in plans to push diamonds on to the G8 agenda.

The government has also held talks with South African company De Beers, which produces around 50 per cent of the world's uncut diamonds. In February, the company announced that its raw stones would carry a guarantee that they were not "conflict diamonds." More recently, earlier this month, De Beers gave written testimony to the US congress on possible action to counter the trade in "conflict diamonds."

A spokeswoman for De Beers in London, where its Central Selling Organisation is based, said the company had no direct comment on the press reports on Friday, but added: "We are working very hard with lots of different people to prevent diamonds being used in this very tragic way."

De Beers defines conflict diamonds as "diamonds mined or stolen by rebels who are in opposition to the legitimate government of a country."

The diamond-producing countries most affected by civil war and therefore the primary source of "conflict diamonds" are Angola, Sierra Leone and Democratic Republic of Congo.

Distributed via Africa News Online (

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