6 Nov 2011

Zimbabwe diamond ban lifted

8:12 am on 6 November 2011

An international ban on Zimbabwe selling diamonds from several mines in eastern Marange has been lifted by the World Diamond Council.

But some analysts say the country's mining industry is still tainted by corruption and violence.

The ABC reports the ban was lifted after talks involving the United States, the European Union and African countries.

The EU and US had blocked previous attempts to lift the ban, imposed in 2009 following accusations that Zimbabwean military officers had a stake in the industry and channelled funds to the Zanu-PF party of President Robert Mugabe.

Human rights groups also claimed people were forced to work on the mines and some of them were badly assaulted. Zimbabwe denied the accusations.

EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said the lifting of the ban was supported because of "a renewed commitment by Zimbabwe to address outstanding areas of noncompliance".

In a statement, the WDC said the breakthrough paved the way for the immediate export of rough diamonds from the mining operations of Marange Resources and Mbada.

WDC president Eli Izhakoff said the process provided a framework through which the integrity of the rough diamond chain of distribution could be protected, while at the same time enabling producer countries to benefit from their natural resources.

The Herald, a state-owned newspaper, said Zimbabwe stands to earn more than $US3 billion a year from the three Marange mines.