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Zimbabwe Govt still fighting for $45 million diamonds seized in Belgium

Zimbabwe Govt still fighting for $45 million diamonds seized in Belgium

HARARE:  Government is still to recover its diamonds worth about 45 million U.S. dollars that were seized in Belgium by a South African mining company four months ago, Mines Minister Walter Chidhakwa said.

He told Xinhua in an interview that after winning a court case against South Africa’s Amari Platinum Holdings early this month, government will now mount another legal challenge early next month against former white commercial farmers that are seeking to attach the same diamonds.

The farmers and Amari Platinum sued government at the International Court of Arbitration in Paris, France over lack of compensation of their seized farms and a platinum concession that was cancelled by the Zimbabwe government a few years ago.

Early this month, a Brussels court dismissed the challenge by Amari Platinum to clear the first hurdle for Zimbabwe in its quest to recover the diamonds that were seized while on sale at Antwerp.

The diamond tender was Zimbabwe’s third since it began marketing its gems at Antwerp in Dec. 2013 after Brussels lifted sanctions on state mining firm, the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation.

The country also held two other diamond auctions at Dubai Diamond Exchange before it started selling the diamonds locally last month.

Chidhakwa said he was confident the country would recover its diamonds.

“I remain confident because the basis on which we won the first case is the basis on which we are defending the second one,” he said.

Estimated to possess diamonds enough to satisfy 25 percent of the world market, Zimbabwe has since 2009 grown to become a significant diamond producer and is currently ranked the sixth largest diamond producer in the world.

The country produced 10.5 million carats of diamonds last year and is projecting to record a fall in production to 8 million carats in 2014.