Tanzanian government blocks Petra Diamonds export in continued mining investigation

Tanzania has confirmed that it blocked the exporting of US$29.5 million worth of diamonds by UK-based firm Petra Diamonds after it accused the miner of under-reporting its mineral exports.

The diamonds were seized by government officials at the main airport in Tanzania’s commercial capital Dar es Salaam, and are now set to be nationalised according to the national Finance and Planning Ministry.

“While Williamson Diamonds Ltd declared in its documentation that the value of the diamonds was $14.798 million, a fresh valuation done by the government established that the actual value of the diamonds is $29.5 million,” said the ministry.

“Among the legal action to be taken include the nationalisation of all the diamonds seized after it was established that there was cheating involved in declaring the actual value of the minerals.”

Williamson Diamonds Ltd operates the facility from which the diamonds were mined, and is 75% owned by Petra with the remaining stake held by the government.

Petra suspended operations at the Williamson mine for health and safety reasons after key personnel were questioned by the government as part of its continued crackdown on foreign companies in the mining sector.

Acacia Mining recently signalled its intention to reduce operational activity at one of its Tanzanian gold mines as it feels the effects of the mineral export ban and a bitter dispute with the government.