Tuesday, December 09, 2003

Libya: investing in the DRC ...

Colonel Gadaffi's Libyan government owns a large stake in Oryx Natural Resources, the Arab-owned diamond mining company whose London listing was unexpectedly cancelled in 2000, the Telegraph can reveal.
With a lede like that, this is one of those stories that you expect to be all juicy and tabloidy with details of outrageous wrongdoing ... but it isn't. In fact the most interesting bits were buried near the end of the article.
Eugene Diomi, the Congolese minister of mines, said: "We think around $30m worth of diamonds a month are smuggled out of the DRC. Our borders are impossible to police."

The minister said around 10,000 workers exploit diamond deposits throughout the DRC. He added that Oryx operates entirely legally and that its diamond production is passed through legitimate channels.

The DRC would like British help in both setting up a system to track diamonds internally and changing the Kimberley Process to prevent neighbouring countries such as the Republic of Congo, which has no mines of its own, from exporting diamonds.
As for Oryx ... it's a diamond company with mining concessions in the Mbuji Mayi region of the DRC. A year ago, the state-owned Libyan Arab African Investment Company bought a 20% stake in Oryx. (No impropriety alleged here.)

And according to the newspaper report, Oryx was recently accused by the BBC of having links to al-Qaeda and selling 'blood diamonds' ... the Beeb had to pay out big to settle that case.

The story appeared in Sunday's London Telegraph, written by Edward Simpkins.