De Beers Plans Return to DRC

July 16, 2003

De Beers Plans Return to DRC

De Beers is set to resume prospecting in the Democratic Republic of Congo as soon as a re-entry is negotiated with authorities, De Beers Managing Director Gary Ralfe told London's Financial Times July 16.

De Beers withdrew from DRC in 1999 following growing ethical concerns about trading in conflict diamonds.

The company's return hinges on the peace deal signed in April to end five years of a violent civil war.

DRC is due to be cleared by the Kimberley Process, the international initiative to end the trade of conflict diamonds, later this month, Ralfe told FT.

However, despite the installation of a transitional govenment in DRC, European Union peacekeepers remain under a United Nations mandate. Rebels still control large areas of DRC.

"The unrest is now confined to the east, not in the diamond producing area of Kasai," Ralfe told FT. "Clearly we want our diamonds to be totally untainted."

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