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Business News of Thursday, 30 November 2006

Source: GNA

Ghana's diamonds to be inspected before exported

Akwatia, Nov. 30, GNA - With effect from November 24,this year, Ghana could not export diamonds unless the diamonds were inspected by experts of the World Diamond Council (WDC).

The WDC experts will do the inspection during the fourth week of every month to ensure that there were no diamonds of foreign origin in the country.

The measure was the result of United Nation's Panel of experts report on Ghana, which alleged that, the country was dealing in conflict diamonds from neighbouring countries.

Conflict or 'blood diamonds' are those from countries where, because of civil strife, rebels mine and sell diamonds to purchase arms and ammunition to fuel the conflicts.

Mr George Asante, Deputy Managing Director (Operations) of the Precious Minerals Marketing Company (PMMC) disclosed these during an education programme organized for diamond dealers atAkwatia on the Kimberley Process Implementation in Ghana. The one-day awareness and sensitisation programme was conducted by officials of the Ministry of Lands, Forestry and Mines, PMMC, Minerals Commission, Mines Inspectorate Division and Geological Survey Department.

Mr. Asante said the inspection by the WDC experts would continue until after another Kimberley review visit to the country on February 28, 2007.

He said at the recent Kimberley review meeting, Ghana was requested to undertake some measures to improve on her internal controls and remove weaknesses in her diamond mining and marketing procedures within three-months .

Mr Asante said as a result, export of diamonds from Ghana ceased on November 24 until the experts from the WDC arrived some time in December to begin their inspection to ensure that only diamonds produced in Ghana were exported.

He announced the re gistration and provision of license to all diamond dealers at Akwatia immediately, free of charge, to enable them to operate in December, 2006. Mr Asante said, the license would be renewed in January, 2007 for a fee and would be valid for a year.

Mr B. R. Yakubu, Technical Director of Mines at the Ministry of lands, Forestry and mines, said with immediate effect, there should be recording of production figures at the concession, transactions between miners, middlemen and PMMC licensed buying agents and using of receipts for transaction between dealers. The "Belgium" diamond market at Akwatia and other locations would be supervised, monitored and controlled.

Mr Yakubu said the Ministry attached great importance to the implementation of measures to regulate the diamond industry, judging from the fact that failure to implement them would lead to a ban of Ghana from exporting her diamonds.

Mr. Ben Aryee, Chief Executive of the Minerals Commission, stressed that, for the survival of the diamond industry, there was no option than to follow the new measures, which included the prohibition of purchase and sale of diamonds which did not originate from Ghana. The Akwatiahene, Osabarima Kofi Boateng III, called for self-policing of the diamond trading activities at Akwatia to expose illegal processes likely to create problems for Kimberley Process implementation in Ghana.

At the meeting, tributer miners (small scale miners) who have acquired lands from the Ghana consolidated Diamonds appealed to the Ministry of Lands, Forestry and Mines to remove the ban on their use of excavators since the ban posed danger to their operation. They explained that, since they have to dig several metres to reach the diamond bearing rocks, it was gradually becoming difficult and unprofitable to use manual labour and sometimes the pits also cave in and kill the miners.