Angola, the world's fifth-biggest diamond producer by value, will take all steps needed to protect an endangered antelope species, which serves as a national symbol, from the effects of diamond mining in a nature reserve, said state-owned company Endiama EP.
Endiama is considering moving the Capunda diamond concession it granted to KCC Lda., Yango Lda. and AM&BC Lda. in the Luando reserve, 400 kilometers southeast of Luanda, the capital, Endiama spokesman Antonio Freitas told the Bloomberg news wire service.
The giant sable, or palanca negra, in Portuguese, is the name of the national soccer team and the emblem of the country’s national airline.
“I can’t say for certain it will be moved, but it could be,” says Freitas. “People were a little careless in identifying the location. The nature reserve was even approved [for mining] by the Ministry of Geology and Mines.”
There are believed to be fewer than 100 of the giant sable in the country due to the effects of the 27-year civil war that ended in 2002 and due to poaching, according to Pedro Vaz Pinto, of the Kissama Foundation, a South Africa-based group leading the preservation efforts.
“Prospecting will mean opening roads and bridges, bringing in people and setting up camps in the bush, destroying habitat and a lot of disturbance,” Pinto says. The remote Luando reserve lacks police to adequately discourage poaching, he said. “This pressure on the animals could be the last nail in their coffin,” he adds.
Meanwhile, Freitas says: “Endiama’s main goal is to protect the palanca negra. Management is meeting with all the companies to find a solution to meet the needs of all involved and cause minimal damage to the environment. We will do all it takes to protect the animals and comply with Angola’s environmental laws.”
Angola sold 8.33 million carats of diamonds valued at $1.16 billion in 2011, according to the Kimberley Process, and was in fifth place after Botswana, Russia, Canada and South Africa.