Venezuela Poised to Reenter Kimberley Process with Eye Towards New Diamond Mining

Venezuela concluded a week of meetings with representatives of the Kimberley Process on Friday in what has been hailed as the final steps towards the South American country’s recertification as an international producer of non-conflict diamonds.

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Venezuela seeks to reenter the Kimberley Process (archive).
Venezuela seeks to reenter the Kimberley Process (archive).
By Lucas Koerner
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Caracas, April 18, 2016 (venezuelanalysis.com) – Venezuela concluded a week of meetings with representatives of the Kimberley Process on Friday in what has been hailed as the final steps towards the South American country’s recertification as an international producer of non-conflict diamonds.

The Kimberley Process (KP) is an intergovernmental body composed of 81 countries that regulates the international diamond trade by imposing extensive certification requirements on prospective members in order to ensure that diamond exports do not finance armed conflicts. 

After eight years outside of the process, Venezuela is now in the final stages of reentering the international agreement as a crucial step towards resuming diamond exports.

Over the course of last week, Venezuelan authorities met with a special KP delegation composed of representatives from China, Angola, South Africa, Canada, the European Union and Russia. The delegates were invited to visit the region of Guaniamo in Venezuela's Bolivar state, which is home to one of the largest diamond reserves in Venezuela.

The representatives were tasked with evaluating if legal and environmental norms are respected in the course of Venezuelan diamond mining, which is a precondition for readmission.

If Venezuela is found in compliance with these norms, it will be authorized to print KP certificates using the same technology utilized to print official currency, which must accompany all shipments destined for international markets. 

“Venezuela is currently a few steps away from reentering the great Kimberley Process family, so that our diamonds will be for peace and won’t be classified as ‘conflict diamonds,’ explained Vice-Minister for Mining Richard Lozada.

The move to reenter the international diamond trade under the KP is part of President Nicolas Maduro’s “15 economic motors” initiative aimed at jumpstarting Venezuela’s ailing economy amid a severe recession triggered by the collapse of global oil prices. 

The large diamond reserves in Guaniamo form part the new 111 square kilometer Orinoco Mining Arc in Bolivar state, which is rich in strategic minerals such as gold, copper, coltan, iron, and bauxite and amounts to approximately 12 percent of national territory. 

In February, the Venezuelan government signed a USD$5 billion agreement with Canadian firm Gold Reserve to begin open-pit gold mining in the extensive Orinoco Arc.

 The agreement has sparked protest from a number of environmental groups. 

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