Conflict Diamonds: Angola
Angola Diamond Mining and Conflict Diamonds
Article Copyright © 2009 AllAboutGemstones.com
Diamond mining in Angola (República de Angola or Republic of Angola) dates back to 1917, when a consortium of Belgian, British, and Portuguese investors created the "Companhia de Diamantes de Angola," or Diamang.
Angola began as part of a greater state known as the Kongo, which was established in 1483 by the Portuguese Empire. The Portuguese Kongo State stretched from modern-day Gabon in the north to the Kwanza (Cuanza, Quanza) River in the south, and Portuguese explorer Paulo Dias de Novais founded the nation's capital city, Luanda (São Paulo de Loanda) in 1575. The Imbangala were indigenous Angolan warriors (kingdom of Kasanje) participated in the slave trade which was an integral part of the Kongo's economy.
Development of Angola's interior began in 1885, after the Berlin Conference fixed the colony's borders, and British and Portuguese investment fostered mining, agriculture and a railway system. Portugal maintained a presence in Angola for nearly five hundred years, but in 1951 the region was made a province (Overseas Province of Angola), and the independence movement began.
Queen Nzinga & Portuguese Governor (c.1922)
Angola's civil war against Portuguese colonialism started in 1961. After a socialist-backed military coup in 1975, Angola gained its independence. In 1981, the state-owned diamond company of Angola, Endiama (Empresa Nacional de Diamantes de Angola) was formed. Endiama is based in Angola's capital city of Luanda.
UNITA (National Union for the Total Independence of Angola) rebels and the socialist PMLA (Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola) have fought a bloody civil war against Angola's Marxist regime ever since its inception. In 1992, UNITA seized control of Endiama's Cuango mining operations in Lunda Norte, canceling the CSO's purchasing agreements by force majeure . De Beers/CSO continued its back-channel purchasing of Cuango diamonds through CODIAM, but by 1999, they had totally withdrawn from the Angolan market due to the negative publicity being generated by conflict diamonds.
The "Society of Diamond Commercialization of Angola" (SODIAM) was established by governmental decree in 1999, in order to stabilize the diamond market for Angolan diamonds. SODIAM was designed to create a single marketing channel for all of Angola's raw diamond production, including the underground artisanal (garimpo) diamond market.
In February of 2002 the leader of UNITA was assassinated and a cease-fire was reached by the two waring factions. UNITA disarmed and assumed the role of the political opposition party. Since that time, the political situation in Angola has begun to normalize, but president José Eduardo dos Santos is preventing democratic elections from taking place, only hinting at their possibility in 2007 or 2008. The last democratic election in Angola was held in 1992.
Rio Cuango River (Photo: www.diamang.com)
Map of Cuango Valley Mining Region
The Luzamba project, located in Cuango Valley, is Angola's largest alluvial mining operation, run by the Sociedade de Desenvolvimento Mineiro (SDM), Endiama and Odebrecht of São Paulo, Brazil.
Kimberlite Mining in Angola
Angola's first non-alluvial mine was the Catoca mine, which is owned by Sociedade Mineira de Catoca Ltda. (SMC), which was a joint venture between Endiama and
ALROSA. ALROSA is a partnership between the Angolan government and Israeli diamantaire, Lev Leviev of the Leviev Group. The mine is now owned by "International Diamond Industries of Israel." The Catoca mine, with an estimated reserve of 190 million carats, employs nearly 2,000 Angolans, and is located near Saurimo, in Lunda Sul.
Angola's kimberlite diamond fields are located in Lunda Norte, in the northeastern corner of Angola. Other kimberlite operations in the region are the Fucauma, and Luarica mines, operated by Endiama in cooperation with ALROSA, ITM, Odebrecht, Petra Diamonds, and Trans Hex . There are also several ongoing exploration projects such as the Alto Cuilo kimberlite and alluvial projects, and the Luo diamond concession's kimberlite pipes. The Camafuca Camazomba Project is sitting on one of the world's largest kimberlite pipes, with estimated reserves of up to 23 million carats .
Bibliography on Conflict Diamonds and Angola
1. Robert Weldon, G.G, Conflict Diamonds - Rough & Tumble . www.professionaljeweler.com
2. Endiama, Empresa Nacional de Diamantes de Angola . www.endiama.co.ao
3. Omayra Bermúdez-Lugo, The Mineral Industry of Angola . minerals.usgs.gov
4. DHS, Angola Diamond Industry's Challenges Ahead . www.tacyltd.com
5. United Nations, The U.N. On Conflict Diamonds . www.un.org
6. Pervenia P. Brown, Conflict Blood Diamonds . www.amnestyusa.org
7. Tom Zoellner, The Heartless Stone: A Journey Throught the World of Diamonds . St. Martin's Press
8. Greg Campbell, Blood Diamonds . Westview Press
9. World Press, Blood Diamonds . www.worldpress.org
10. Diamang, Diamang Angola . diamang.com