Zimbabwe court cancels British firm's diamond licence

7th September 2010, Comments 0 comments

Zimbabwe's high court has cancelled a British firm's mining licence in the eastern Marange diamond fields that have been involved in a "blood diamond" controversy over abuses by soldiers, state media said Tuesday.

British-owned African Consolidated Resources (ACR) has been waging a court battle over the rights to the fields, considered one of the decade's biggest diamond finds.

Justice Charles Hungwe had earlier ruled in favour of ACR, but has now reversed his judgement and found that the firm obtained a licence before it was properly registered, the Herald newspaper reported.

"They do not have any title to any claims in the Marange diamond fields," Hungwe said, according to the newspaper.

The judge said ACR duped authorities to acquire the mining rights since its subsidiaries were not yet registered locally when they obtained the licence.

The legal battle over mining rights had further clouded the fate of the Marange fields, where the international diamond regulator Kimberley Process last year banned diamond sales after finding the military had beaten and tortured civilians to force them to mine the gems.

Zimbabwe has since placed the fields under the management of two little-known South African firms, and Kimberley agreed to allow a limited sale of diamonds last month.

A second sale of diamonds from Marange is planned for this month, but no dates have been set.

© 2010 AFP

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