HARARE Jan 29 Zimbabwe expects diamond
production from its Marange fields to double to 16.9 million
carats this year as companies ramp-up production in a region
where human rights groups have flagged concerns over rights
abuses, state media reported on Tuesday.
The government through its mining firm Zimbabwe Mining
Development Corporation (ZMDC) operates five joint venture mines
in Marange, which produced 8 million carats in 2012 and
generated $685 million in exports, the state-owned Herald
Diamond production is expected to reach 16.9 million carats
this year, the paper said based on projections from ZMDC.
ZMDC officials could not be reached for comment.
Diamond revenues have been a source of friction within the
coalition government formed by President Robert Mugabe and
long-time opponent, Morgan Tsvangirai, now prime minister.
Finance Minister Tendai Biti, from Tsvangirai's party, has
accused the Marange mines of not remitting diamond proceeds to
Diamond watchdog Partnership Africa Canada said last
November at least $2 billion of diamonds from Marange fields
were stolen by people linked to Mugabe's ZANU-PF party, but ZMDC
said the gems were sold transparently.
The Kimberley Process, a blood diamonds monitoring
organisation, has certified Marange gems but human rights groups
have raised concerns about potential abuses at mines and
Mugabe's opponents fear proceeds from diamond sales will be used
to fund a war chest for elections expected in 2013.
(Reporting by MacDonald Dzirutwe; Editing by Jon Herskovitz)