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YAOUNDE, Aug 21 (Reuters) - Cameroon aims to become a major diamond exporter, especially from its Mobilong deposits exploited by Botswana Diamond and C&K Mining, after gaining access to the Kimberley certification process, the country's mines minister said on Tuesday.
Emmanuel Bonde said the Central African nation has been admitted a member country of the initiative, agreed by governments, industries and civil society with the aim of curbing trade in so-called blood or conflict diamonds.
"This ensures that the country's diamond production can be sold in the international market where only certified diamonds are allowed," Bonde told a press conference in Yaounde.
Despite its minerals potential, industrial diamond production has only just started in Cameroon with Ireland-based Botswana Diamonds announcing its first gem recovered from its exploration on July 25.
Until now, mostly small-scale artisanal miners have been producing about 5,000 carats of diamond annually, the minister said.
South Korea's C&K Mining, the other firm operating in the Mobilong area in the east of the country, has said it plans to build a diamond mine with a capacity of about 1 million carats per year.