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Transparent diamond industry makes the cut

Article - April 3, 2014
Over the past decade, Angola has championed greater transparency in the diamond industry “through persistence, dedication and consistent support for the Kimberley Process”
The introduction of the influential Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) in 2003 sought to create a regulatory system that would oblige both producers and governments involved in the diamond industry to ensure the gems they produced had not been mined as a result of conflict. While there are still instances of violence within Angola’s diamond industry, the introduction of the Kimberley Process has not only reduced the number of these occurrences, but also provided a framework within which the industry has been able to develop and expand.
“Angola is one of the pioneering countries in the Kimberley certification process,” says Miguel Bondo Junior, Secretary of State for Geology and Mining. “It has been at the origin of the constitution of this system and has the reputation of being one of the first countries to grant a certificate for their diamonds.”
This year, Angola has assumed the role of vice-chairman of the Kimberley Process and will be its leader in 2015. “We are proud because we have been unanimously voted for the vice-chair for the 2014 term and chair of the organisation in 2015,” Carlos Sumbula, CEO of the country’s state-owned Empresa Nacional de Diamantes de Angola (Endiama), told the media last November regarding the honour. 
Angola’s diamond industry has enjoyed extensive growth over the past decade and it has been able to invest heavily in new equipment to expand production and prospecting. Many of those investments have been made possible as a direct result of the Kimberley Process. The scheme has enabled firms such as Endiama, which produced 8.3 million carats in 2012, to make the most of Angola’s substantial resources. Its CEO has also praised the government’s strategy of storing diamonds, which has helped prices rise to around $130 per carat, compared to $30 per carat in 2008/2009.
Angola’s attempts to transform the way its own industry operates were reflected in Eli Izhakoff’s comments during the Angolan Diamond Centenary Conference held last June in Luanda. Mr Izhakoff, who was president of the World Diamond Council until November, said that the work of African countries had enabled the diamond industry to not only reduce the number of gems in circulation as a result of violence but also empowered African countries to take more control over the industry itself.
“Thirteen years ago when discussions first began about the system that would become the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme, Angola was one of the prime examples of a country whose diamond resources were being squandered to fund a civil war,” Mr Izhakoff said. “But through persistence, dedication and consistent support for the Kimberley Process, they have regenerated a viable diamond industry, with a tremendous upside. Angola is a living example of the promise of rebirth, and a centre that offers the most tangible proof of what the Kimberley Process is able to achieve.” 
There are now sorting and marketing facilities in various African territories, while Angola itself is seeking to expand the services it offers with plans for new polishing firms and jewellery companies. It is also seeking further investment from foreign mining outfits that can help the country make the best of its extensive resources. The recently announced National Geology Plan, called Planageo, has been designed to highlight the opportunities in the mining sector, and has a particular focus on the diamond and iron industries. 
Foreign investment ventures are being supported by a host of such incentives from the Angolan government, including the introduction of new tax cuts and relaxed laws regarding the state’s ownership of firms. Measures that cut the paperwork required to prospect and explore reserves in the country have also been announced, again helping to make Angola a more attractive territory for international companies to further expand the country’s burgeoning diamond industry.