April 30, 2003
Oppenheimer Champions Kimberley Monitoring
Nicky Oppenheimer, chairman of De Beers, endorsed changes to the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme that would create an independent monitoring function for the system, to verify both government and industry procedures. Oppenheimer addressed a De Beers-hosted dinner April 29 for delegates gathered in Johannesburg, South Africa for a three-day conference to fine-tune the Kimberley Process.
Oppenheimer called for tightened controls on rough diamond trading in countries where open alluvial diamond mining leaves diggers more vulnerable to unscrupulous buyers than in countries where closed diamond mines prevent infiltration by rogue elements. He also recommended governments and industry provide assistance to countries unable to control the diamond trade to ensure diamond revenues are used responsibly for local needs, rather than to fund conflict or terror.
He called on countries experiencing conflict to return to the rule of law and sound fiscal policies, while avoiding the corruption that has created so much havoc. He said the industry should ensure that any profits made from diamond mining "make a real and lasting contribution to the countries and communities in which it operates."
"The most prosperous countries in the world today are not those with the most abundant supplies of minerals and energy," said Oppenheimer, "but those with the most skilled and educated populations living and working in free, accountable and transparent democracies."
Without an orderly mining structure or predictable laws, countries with mineral wealth "will be a magnet for the greedy and corrupt to line their pickets and perpetrate evil at the expense of the people," concluded Oppenheimer.
by Peggy Jo Donahue