By Dan Oancea

 In June 2008, countries that adhered to the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme held a meeting in New Delhi, India. A major development was reported: Venezuela cracked under the pressure exerted by the organization and NGOs and voluntarily withdrew from the Kimberley process for a period of two years, which translates in the fact that it would stop all of its rough diamond exports for that period of time.

How did it get there? The country seems to be incapable to bring under control its remote jungle based small scale mining operations; since January 2005 Venezuela has not reported any official rough diamond exports even though it was estimated that it produces about 150,000 carats per year. The Partnership Africa Canada (PAC) organization purported that these diamonds are smuggled out of the country. The Kimberley Process (KP) organization and numerous other NGOs have repeatedly asked for access to the artisanal mining areas but permission had been denied by the Venezuelan government.

The difficult to reach area of the Guaniamo is being explored by Kansai Mining Corporation, a Canadian junior exploration company. This is what they had to say about what they have found there:

“The Guaniamo Kimberlite Province, as it has become known, is the only area in Venezuela where primary kimberlitic sources have been identified. These workings exploit generally the top half-metre of the out-crop zone of saprolitic kimberlitic style schist which form Belmudez. They are sizeable pits often more than 1000 sq. m in area concentrated in the 900 metre long central section of the strike, but present sporadically over the entire 3 km of strike. Grub–staked by 2 Columbian brothers, artisanal miners used water-jet monitors and small Brazilian jigs in the wet seasons of 1995 and 1996. The pits cover some 30-35 hectares of the Belmudez Zone. Unsurprisingly no record of the production from these pits, as to tonnage treated, grade or quality has been discovered. Research in Antwerp by a Company director in late 2003-early 2004 among diamond dealers purports sales of more than 1 million carats in 1995-1997 by two Columbian brothers in parcels of about 50,000 carats each, at around $ 60-70/carat. Stones of up to 60 carats have been reported.”

The most detailed paper to date is Partnership Africa Canada's ‘Diamond Mining and Smuggling in Venezuela’ paper, which is a must read for geologists/mining specialists that have to deal with KP and diamond mining operations in developing countries.