Monday, July 30, 2007

Blood Diamonds No More

Liberia is liberating diamonds after a six year ban. The president of Liberia, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, plans to use the diamonds to fund infrastructure and renewal projects. Mining license applications will number ten in the final stages. Charles Taylor, the US educated former president, stands accused of escalating the sale of diamonds to fund private militias for depraved wars.

Blood diamonds were a primary source of funding West African conflicts. The saga of the legendary Sierra Leone diamond trade - smuggling, became the film Blood Diamond, starring Leonardo Di Caprio and Djimon Hounsou. International in scope, the Kimberly Process was implemented to resolve and verify diamond origins. Diamond authentication is crucial to buyers ensuring they are not funding terror or the subjugation of Africans.

DeBeers felt the chilling effects in the market after the movie debut. It is seeking to strengthen its already formidable place atop the diamond market even after an agreement to exit the Russian market in 2009. South African miners are staging strike actions against DeBeers in repudiating the company's compensation offer. A number of African countries are re-opening mining licenses. Flooding a shaky market with inventory will cause intense resistance amongst the biggest players in the diamond market. Diamonds can be a girl's best friend or the means by which evil is funded. We've seen both movies.

Glitter and Greed by Janine Roberts is a 2003 book outlining diamonds, mining conditions and DeBeers. The Heartless Stone by Tom Zoellener follows the diamond trade around the world, mining its secrets. The history of diamonds are captured in an excellent out of print book about DeBeers from the 90's by Stefan Kanfer, The Last Empire: DeBeers, Diamonds and the World.

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