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Guyanese Diamond Trade Under International Review

Guyanese Diamond Trade Under International Review

Posted by Shanelle Weir on September 24, 2014

A high level team from the Kimberly Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) is in Guyana conducting a one week Peer Review exercise aimed at, among other things, certifying that conflict diamonds are not being mixed with Guyana’s and exported.

In 2012, Reuters had reported that Venezuelan diamonds were being mixed with Guyana’s and then exported. The Venezuelan gems are thought to be easily transported through Guyana’s porous borders.

The Ministry of Natural Resources in a release today said that a team consisting of Louis Perron of the Government of Canada, James Lombe of World Diamond Council, Paul Roberto Alves of Brazil, and Frisco McDonald of the US Embassy Georgetown held discussions with Minister of Natural Resources and the Environment, Robert Persaud. Also present were Rickford Vieira, Commissioner, Guyana Geology and Mines Commission, Patrick Harding, President, Guyana Gold and Diamond Miners’ Association and other stakeholders of the sector.

The review of the local diamond trade was requested by Guyana and this was noted in the communique from the November 2013 Plenary in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Minister Persaud in his remarks at a meeting with the team stated that the evaluation is timely and anticipates a successful review of the systems in place for the production and trade of diamonds. The Natural Resources and the Environment Minister stated, according to the release, that he is optimistic the review will allow Guyana to be more compliant in the trade of diamonds

Persaud added that while diamond production is increasing steadily there is a thrust for clean and responsible mining. He said this was evident in a recent assessment which stated that there has been a decline in deforestation as a result of new technology and more responsible and low-impact mining practices.
Diamond output for the period January – August 2014 has increased by 23.14 percent as compared to the same period for 2013, the release reported.

According to Perron of the Government of Canada, Guyana has been receiving positive ratings and the ongoing review will only boost the current safeguards already has in place.

The release said that the review team will also be meeting with the Guyana Revenue Authority, Bank of Guyana and stakeholders such as the Guyana Gold and Diamond Miners Association and Diamond Exporters, for the purpose of reviewing the processes by which diamonds are exported from Guyana that avoids them mixing with diamonds which may be fueling conflicts around the world, referred to as “blood diamonds”.

Further, the visiting team will engage miners in the field and will contribute to the worldwide best practices in the International Diamond Trade.

The Kimberly process is a certification mechanism aimed at preventing conflict diamonds from entering the world market. Guyana is a signatory to the scheme and its exports of diamonds must comply with safeguards.

The December 7, 2012 Reuters article detailed the actions of diamond buyers as they made their way through the bushes of Venezuela to seek out and buy diamonds. It demonstrated that Venezuelan diamonds pass through Guyana and receive falsified certificates after which they most likely end up in places such as Tel Aviv, Antwerp, London and New York.

Venezuela ceased issuing Kimberley certificates in 2005, voluntarily removing itself from the rigours of the protocol. In 2008, Venezuela removed itself as a participant to the Kimberley Process. In 2012 the Chair of the Kimberley Process delivered an ultimatum to Venezuelan authorities to demonstrate compliance or lose membership altogether. It said that at a plenary meeting of the Kimberley Process in Washington, a deadline for Venezuela was set for April 1, 2013. Venezuela did not meet this deadline but is still trying to work with KPCS on the way forward.

This Ministry of Natural Resources photo shows the two sides meeting

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