columnBy Godlove Bainkong
Certifying diamond also establishes government's efforts to improve the business climate.
For the first time since independence, Cameroon has officially launched the exportation of its diamond to the rest of the world. Stakeholders say the operation which was launched yesterday January 16 with an official award of an exportation certificate to C&K Mining firm, marks a turning point in the country's mining sector with so much to show for socio-economic development.
To the Minister of Mines, Industries and Technological Development, Emmanuel Bonde, "This means that we have been recognised at the international level in terms of the existence of our diamond as well as governance in the mining sector. Financially, the State treasury will also be beefed up with taxes that will be paid for the exportation of the mineral." With the process, the operator will pay in a total of 12.5 per cent of the value of the diamond mined and exported to the State in form of taxes. Export tax is 2 per cent of the value; ad valorem tax, 8 per cent and the Kimberly Process (certification) tax 2.5 per cent of the amount.
For the population, diamond has always been a threat to peace, given that it is sometimes used to produce weapons of mass destruction. Now that Cameroon's diamond is certified and will go through official channels, the peace of the population will be guaranteed. The operator, C&K Mining, the Minister said, has signed some obligations in favour of the population in the mining and exportation of the diamond. Schools, roads, health centres will be built and people will be trained so that within two or three years, a good proportion of the workforce would be made up of locals. "Presently, the Focal Point in charge of certifying the production is from the local area. So, he is a witness to what is being done," Minister Bonde added.
The Kimberly Process in itself is said to be the best way of practicing transparency. "Since, we have been admitted into the process, we are obliged to practice transparency. There is a Focal Point on the site such that any time a piece of diamond is picked; he describes what has been picked, put it in a box with a number that will be communicated at the central level where we have an expert and evaluation office so that every piece of diamond is calculated from its specificities. From the specificities, the price will be fixed through which different taxes will be paid," the Minister added. "Each time diamond is certified, its value is multiplied by three or four. Hence, artisanal miners will sell it much more expensive than before to help make ends meet. Given the good quality of the country's diamond, there are ready markets in conformed countries like China, Korea et al," the National Permanent Secretary of the Kimberly Process, Kisito Mvogo said.
With the exportation certificate, the representative of the Chairman of C&K Mining firm, Choung Sung Hee, said they are ready to mass-produce diamond. "We are expecting a monthly production of about 6,500 carats of diamond. "For now, we have only one set up plant but we have plans to increase the number of set up plants gradually," she noted.
Actual exportation is estimated at 617 carats (about 125 grammes) valued at FCFA 72 million. The destination for now is from C&K Mining Cameroon to C&K Korea.