The Zimbabwe government has filed an appeal against last week’s High Court ruling that gave a UK mining company full ownership of the controversial Chiadzwa Diamond fields.
The former ZANU-PF government seized UK’s African Consolidated Resources plc (ACR)’s Chiadzwa diamond fields in October 2006 and allocated the claim to the state-owned Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC). The seizure, backed by Zimbabwe’s military, took place after thousands of illegal miners descended on Chiadzwa.
ACR had held the claim for less than a year before its confiscation.
The Zimbabwean government has never given a formal reason for the seizure of ACR’s diamond claim in eastern Zimbabwe.
ACR once attempted to work with all elements of the government in order to agree a joint venture with the Zimbabwe government or parties nominated by them but that didn’t bear any fruit.
Last week, Zimbabwe High Court confirmed African Consolidated Resources plc’s right of title to claims on the Chiadzwa diamond field.
However, Zimbabwe Minister of Mines, Obert Mpofu, who is from President Robert Mugabe’s ZANU-PF party said the government had lodged an appeal against the High Court ruling to handover Chiadzwa Diamond Fields to ACR.
“We have appealed against that judgment, that is what the Attorney General has been working on. That is the government position,” Mpofu said.
In a statement following its court victory last week, ACR said it was committed to “dialogue with the Zimbabwe government”, in what the market saw as an olive branch suggesting the UK firm could be willing to partner the government in extracting the Chiadzwa.
At least 200 people, mainly illegal miners, have been killed by Zimbabwean security forces in Chiadzwa, New York-based Human Rights Watch said in a report June 26.
Zimbabwe’s military used the “forced labour of children and adults, and are torturing and beating local villagers on the diamond fields,” Human Rights Watch said in a report, adding that “some” income from the sale of diamonds was going to senior members of President Mugabe’s ZANU PF party.
The Kimberley Process (KP) a diamond industry self-regulating body, visited Chiadzwa twice this year. KP recommended that Zimbabwe should refrain from selling diamonds for six months or until minimum standards are met in Chiadzwa.
UK-based African Consolidated is listed on the London Stock Exchange’s AIM market.