Tanzanian Diamonds Stolen In South African Flight Raid
Above Photo: Rough diamonds of a similar quality to Mwadui’s best stones (debeersgroup.com)
Recently I wrote an article about the theft of $50,000,000 worth of diamonds at Brussels airport, and mentioned another little-known theft of a substantial quantity of Tanzanian diamonds from another airport, which my informant believed to be in Europe.
Having done some, er, digging, I have now discovered that this latter hushed-up theft of a consignment of Tanzanian diamonds didn’t occur in Europe, but at Johannesburg’s Oliver Tambo airport in South Africa, while the uncut diamonds were in transit to Antwerp, and that they came from the former De Beers-owned Mwadui diamond mine in the Shinyanga region of Tanzania, which is now owned by Petra Diamonds Ltd.
The stolen consignment consisted of 14,931 carats of rough diamonds, valued at US$ 3,000,000, and great secrecy and considerable government confusion surrounded the theft in Tanzania, as the loss was thought likely to impact significantly on the royalty the government takes from the sale of Mwadui diamonds in Antwerp.
Petra Diamonds lodged an insurance claim and remained confident that it would be reimbursed for the loss, out of which the Tanzanian government would presumably see its share.
To date, not a single diamond has been recovered from this raid, and there are few details of how it went down. It is believed the diamonds, after they’d been assessed and sealed in Tanzania and put on a flight to Johannesburg from Dar es Salaam, were discovered to have been tampered with, and the diamonds were missing, by the time the flight arrived in South Africa.
Together with some long-suffering investors, we still have a licence to mine a large piece of land right next to the Mwadui diamond mine in Shinyanga, known as Diamond Africa, and I have visited the Mwadui mine many times in the past.
I will come back to this mining area in future articles as I research my account of what befell our Tanzanian diamond mining operations out there.
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©Peter Alan Lloyd
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