April 30, 2002
Tucson Tanzanite Protocols Moving Forward
There has been progress made in implementing the Tucson Tanzanite Protocols in Tanzania's mines, say members of the Tucson Tanzanite Protocols steering committee after a week-long visit to Mererani, Tanzania.
The U.S. delegation, made up of members of the gem and jewelry industry, visited to have direct consultation with members of Tanzania's government and tanzanite industry. Late last year several important U.S. retailers suspended purchasing the gem, following press reports linking the gem to the al Qaeda terrorist network. The protocols are designed to increase transparency and accountability in the tanzanite trade.
"We are pleased and gratified by the evidence of progress already achieved in implementing the protocols," says Douglas Hucker, executive director of the American Gem Trade Association. "Enthusiasm for the Tucson Tanzanite Protocols was evident in every meeting on our schedule. We look forward to continuing to work with all the stakeholders on an ongoing basis to continue the substantial progress already achieved."
Cecilia Gardner, executive dirctor and general counsel for the Jeweler's Vigilance Committee, said she was able to review records maintained by the Zonal Mining Office, detailing tanzanite production and internal trading. "We were pleasantly surprised by the extent of existing documentation which will serve as a solid foundation for future efforts," she said. "Maintaining an accurate data base is key to establishing a credible system of warranites."
Task Force members also visited all of the independent miner's blocks, as well as the facilities of the AFGEM mine.
Along with Hucker and Gardner, those visiting Tanzania from the U.S. industry were Lucie Philips, Ph.D., principal of International Business Initiatives; Richard Krementz, Krementz Gemstones; and Matthew Runci, president and CEO of Jewelers of America.
The Mererani Reconciliation Committee is expected to submit its report to the Tanzanian Ministry soon. The report will detail methods of improving orderliness of tanzanite mining, establishing stable relations between small- and large-scale miners, and developing an implementation plan for the protocols.
by Robert Weldon, G.G.