Bulawayo, Zimbabwe — 14 October 2013 – The European Union’s representative in Zimbabwe says the southern African country can resume exports of diamonds mined in Marange to the 28-member bloc, following the lifting of sanctions last month.

“They can start immediately,” said Aldo Dell’Ariccia, the head of the European Union delegation, in an interview with Bloomberg News on the sidelines of a Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries conference here.  A Belgian delegation of diamond buyers, cutters and polishers is expected to arrive in the country before the end of this month, he added.

On September 24, the EU ended sanctions against the state-owned Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation, which operates five mining companies on a 50:50 joint venture basis in the eastern district of Marange. Advocacy groups, including Ontario-based Partnership Africa Canada, have accused Zimbabwe’s ruling party of looting about US$2 billion from the Marange fields, partly to fund the nation’s military.

The lifting of sanctions is expected to boost Zimbabwe’s tax revenue by US$400 million a year, according to the EU.

The bloc wants to ensure that some polishing and cutting of the gems is done in Zimbabwe so that “more value-addition remains in the country,” Dell’Ariccia said. “Now we don’t have restrictive measures anymore against ZMDC, European investors and specialists can see what can be done.”

Zimbabwe is expected to mine 16.9Mcts this year, according to Mines Ministry estimates. Last year, the country produced 8Mcts, generating US$685 million of revenue.

Source: Bloomberg News. For more information, click here.