Venezuela eyes U.N. certification of its gold, diamond reserves

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Venezuela is looking to obtain U.N. certification of its reserves of diamonds, gold and other precious stones and minerals this year, a necessary step to ensure a “corresponding fair price,” the Central Bank said.

“This year, I hope in the first half of the year, we’ll get the Kimberley certification; it’s extremely important for the country to be certified by this global organization,” Nelson Merentes, the bank’s governor, said Tuesday.

Members of the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme, or KPCS, which was set up by the United Nations to ensure that diamond purchases are not financing violence by rebel movements seeking to undermine legitimate governments, will arrive in Venezuela on Sunday, Merentes said in a government event Tuesday televised by state-run VTV.

Venezuela’s deputy mining minister, Richard Lozada, said on Feb. 23 that the KPCS would certify that the South American country had diamond “reserves amounting to 33 million carats, but also a potential wealth” of up to 3 billion carats.

President Nicolas Maduro is promoting the so-called “Orinoco Mining Arc,” an approximately 111,000-sq.-kilometer (42,850-sq.-mile) region of east-central Venezuela, south of the Orinoco River, that is rich in gold, coltan, diamonds, iron ore, bauxite and other minerals.

In addition to the region’s diamond potential, Venezuela estimates the mining arc also contains 14 billion tons of iron ore and 2 billion tons of bauxite, as well as potential coltan reserves valued at more than $100 billion.

Venezuela’s certified gold reserves amount to 4,000 tons, according to Lozada, who said “7,000 tons, equivalent to much more than $200 billion, could be incorporated.”

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