Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe gets custody of ACR diamonds

19:48, January 27, 2010      

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The Supreme Court in Zimbabwe has ruled that all diamonds extracted from the London-listed African Consolidated Resources claims in Marange since 2007 be surrendered to the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe for safekeeping.

The court order means that 129,400 carats of diamonds seized from ACR and its subsidiaries by police in 2007 when their permit was cancelled by government should be taken to the RBZ.

According to the Herald newspaper on Wednesday, Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku ruled on Monday that the diamonds would remain at the central bank until the ownership wrangle between ACR on one hand, and the Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe and the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation on the other, is resolved.

ACR lawyer Jonathan Samkange said the ruling means that Mbada Mining Private Limited- who recently got a permit to exploit the disputed claims- cannot sell the diamonds they are currently extracting and must surrender them to the RBZ.

Mbada Mining Private Limited -- a joint venture between ZMDC subsidiary Marange Resources and Mauritius' Grandwell Holdings Limited -- recently suspended a diamond sale because it had not followed Kimberly Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) laid down procedures. KPCS regulates world trade in diamonds.

The aborted sale was the first planned by Mbada Mining Private Limited since it started full scale mining operations at Marange in September last year. Samkange welcomed the court's decision, adding his clients were comfortable with the order.

He said diamonds that were still to be mined by Mbada Mining Private Limited will be taken to the RBZ and none of them shall be sold until the matter is resolved. He said Mbada Mining was extracting diamonds "at the heart of ACR's claims".

The legal wrangle between ACR on one hand, and ZMMC and ZMDC on the other, started when government cancelled the mining consortium' s permit to exploit diamonds in Marange in 2006 and later directed the MMCZ to seize diamonds from the company.

ACR challenged the cancellation of the permit in the courts and High Court Judge Charles Hungwe ruled that the diamonds be returned to ACR. He also gave the company the green light to resume operations on its claims without police interference.

This led to the ZMDC and MMCZ filing an urgent chamber application for suspension of the execution of part of Hungwe's ruling ordering the release of the diamonds to ACR pending determination of a Supreme Court appeal.

ACR acquired the disputed Marange claims, about 90 km southwest of the city of Mutare on the eastern border with Mozambique, in 2006 but was evicted by government in November the same year.

Source: Xinhua
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