- Angola's national diamond company Endiama has announced that it expects to double its production capacity in 2006. Endiama's current capacity is about 6 million carats of diamonds per year. If the state company reaches its target, Angola will surpass South Africa and become Africa's third largest diamond producer, after Botswana and Congo Kinshasa (DRC). The industry however still faces many problems.
According to information released by the Angolan government's Agência Nacional para o Investimento Privado (ANIP), the national diamond mining sector is experiencing a boom-like revival. During the last decade, diamond production has been around 3 to 5 million carats annually, recovering to an estimated 6.5 million carats currently, following the end of the civil war.
Angola's diamond production is mostly controlled by the state-owned Empresa Nacional de Diamantes de Angola (Endiama). Endiama's current capacity is about 6 million carats of diamonds per year, but the company has now announced plans to double its production capacity during the next year. By end-2006, Endiama thus plans to produce 12 million carats annually.
The production increase was due to the start-up of the parastatal's new exploration and production arm (Endiama-EP) and expected new production from six diamond projects coming on line. In the Camanjanja area of Lunda-Norte province, Endiama-EP will begin mining diamonds independent of any other company. This will be the first time the company has operated independently.
Endiama-EP expects to produce around 7,000 carats of diamonds per year from this project alone, according to ANIP. Endiama further plans to use the additional revenue to build a new diamond cutting plant and improve local infrastructure in areas where it is operating.
The production increase announced by Endiama would significantly increase Angola's share of the world's diamond trade. Measured in carats, Angola in 2003 was the world's seventh largest producer and measured in value, the country came fifth world-wide. Australia produced most diamonds counted in carats in 2003, while Botswana by far was the world's greatest producer in value.
If Endiama's plans are realised, Angola's annual diamond production in 2007 may reach around 13 million carats annually, worth an estimated US$ 2.2 billion, if the same quality is maintained. Angola's diamond production could thus surpass those of Canada and South Africa, making the country the world's fifth largest producer. In Africa, only Botswana and Congo Kinshasa (DRC) would then be producing more diamonds.
Angola's diamond industry for a long time was bad reputed due to the gems' fuelling of the country's bloody civil war. Most operational diamond mines were under control of the UNITA rebels during the civil war. The Angolan government now claims to have cleaned up the sector, following guidelines by the international Kimberly Process.
A recent report by Angola's prominent journalist and civil rights campaigner Rafael Marques however claims that the national diamond industry still is beset by "murders, beatings, arbitrary detentions and other human rights violations." The report, 'Angola's Deadly Diamonds', called on the international community to boycott Angolan gems as diamond mining in the country was "based on the systematic violation of human rights," thus making them "conflict diamonds".
Also the Angolan government agree that all is not well in the sector. Officials assume that the state is losing as much as US$ 375 million in revenue every year because of diamond smuggling. In December 2003, the government launched 'Operation Brilliant', a plan to arrest and expel those found illegally mining the gems. So far more than 250,000 miners and smugglers have been deported from Angola, according to the UN.
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