business

Dec. 18, 2020

NEO SENOKO

2 min read

Illegal diamond dealers face arrest

Illegal diamond dealers face arrest

Diamonds mined in Lesotho

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DEALERS who will be found in possession of diamonds without proper documentation after January 27, 2021 will be arrested, the Commissioner of Mines, Pheello Tjatja has said.

This, after the Ministry of Mining confirmed in a statement this week that it has published the Precious Stones (Prevention of Illicit and Theft of Diamonds) Regulations of 2020.

The regulations allow for the surrender and voluntary declaration of diamonds whose holders are without proper documentation.

The said diamonds will be sold by the government on behalf of the unlicensed dealers.

The ministry has arranged for the diamonds to be handed over to the District Administrator’s offices starting from Tuesday this week until January 27, 2021.

The diamonds can also be handed over to the department of mines offices within the same period.

“Anyone who will be found in possession of diamonds after this period will be arrested because that would be against the law,” Mr Tjatja said in a brief interview with Metro on Wednesday.

Applications for diamond dealer’s licenses are also open and licenses will be issued during second week of January 2021, in preparation for sale in February.

All the collected diamonds will be sold at an open auction to be held at the department of mines in February 2021.

“Only dealers who have applied will be able to bid during the auction,” Mr Tjatja also said.

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Lesotho has been offering mining licenses since 1970 but the process was temporarily stopped in 2018 because traders could not disclose as to how they had obtained their diamonds.

This was a challenge because buyers across the globe only purchase diamonds that have accurate documentation demonstrating their source.

The mining industry in Lesotho is dominated by diamonds, which according to the Ministry of Finance, accounted for 5.7 percent of the GDP and half a billion maloti in government revenues from an estimated 1.3 million carats in 2018.

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