Ahmed bin Sulayem, who this week was elected to take charge of the Kimberley Process, a multilateral body tasked with cleaning up the diamond trade, said any proposed scheme “must take into account African diamond producing nations” such as Botswana, the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Africa.
But the Emirati warned that a Belgian proposal to put restrictions on the international trade of diamonds, which the G7 is considering adopting, “falls well short of this important goal”.
The EU’s chief diplomat Josep Borrell last week said the bloc was set to move ahead with a ban on Russian diamonds after securing sufficient backing from the G7 group of developed nations.
The diamond dispute is only the latest rift between Europe and African capitals. A ministerial meeting set for next week has been postponed after officials decided there was little chance that the two sides would agree on a joint communiqué containing language regarding Israel’s war against Hamas and Russia’s war in Ukraine, according to three people briefed on the discussions.
Botswana’s state-owned Okavango Diamond Company (ODC) has temporarily halted its rough stone sales as part of an industry-wide drive to reduce the glut of inventory caused by lower global demand for jewelry, its managing director Mmetla Masire said on Tuesday.
ODC, which reported a record $1.1 billion in revenue in 2022, holds 10 auctions a year to sell its 25% allocation of production from Debswana Diamond Company, a joint venture between Anglo American’s (AAL.L) De Beers and Botswana, in terms of the partners’ gem sales agreement.
Debswana produced about 24 million carats last year, with ODC getting an allocation of about 6 million carats.
The company has cancelled its November auction and a decision on the December sale is still to be made as the industry battles slowing demand for cut and polished diamonds in the U.S and China, Masire said.
“For the first time, we have had to build up inventory as we do not want to just irresponsibly release goods into a market which is already oversupplied,” Masire said in an interview. “For now, we have stopped the auctions, we will decide on the December auction.”
Last month, trade bodies in India, which cuts and polishes 90% of the world’s rough diamonds, urged members to halt rough diamond imports for two months to manage supplies and aid prices due to weak demand.
In August, De Beers said it would allow its customers to defer some of their purchases for the rest of the year.
As part of a new agreement between De Beers and Botswana, ODC’s allocation is set to rise to 7 million carats. Masire said the company was working on introducing contract sales, a model that De Beers uses to sell 90 % of its supply, among other new sales channels.
“We are still to decide on what percentage of our allocation will be sold through contract sales to complement our auctions,” Masire said. “We are likely to have two-year sales contracts and we are looking at going into partnership with only a limited number of buyers so that we can better serve them.”
Anglo American Plc unit De Beers and Botswana’s government signed a deal covering the main aspects of a new sales and mining agreement for their Debswana diamond venture in the African nation.
The pact covers a new 10-year sales deal for Debswana’s rough diamond production through to 2033, along with a 25-year extension to the Debswana mining licenses through to 2054, De Beers and the Botswana government said in a joint statement on Sunday.
The terms “provide further detail and clarity to the commercial and operational aspects of the agreement in principle between the two partners” announced on June 30, they said. Among them are stipulations for the apportionment of Debswana supply and other economic arrangements, they said, without giving further details.
Diamond processor and trader HB Antwerp said on Monday it had removed one of its three co-founders from management following differences over strategy, a development that comes amid a pending sales pact with major producer Botswana.
Oded Mansori, who co-founded HB Antwerp in 2020 with partners Shai de Toledo and Rafael Papismedov, said he was taking them to court over his removal.
“On September 1, HB terminated Mr Oded Mansori’s management role in all the HB Companies,” the Belgian company said in a statement, citing a “sharp difference in strategic vision and approaches to business”.
The government of Botswana, the world’s No. 1 diamond producer by value, said in March that it had agreed to buy a 24% stake in HB Antwerp. As part of the deal, state-owned Okavango Diamond Company would supply HB with an undisclosed quantity of rough diamonds for five years.
The deal is yet to be signed.
Mansori, a long-time diamond dealer, said in a separate statement that he was “determined to defend his vision and to fight for the wellbeing and the future of HB,” and that “a legal process is currently underway in court.”
Mansori, who declined to comment further, said he was still a shareholder in the company.
HB also has a partnership with Lucara Diamond Corp, buying stones of 10 carat quality and above from the Toronto-listed miner’s Karowe Mine in central Botswana at prices based on the estimated polished outcome of each diamond.
Lucara did not immediately respond to a request for comment on whether the legal tussle could impact its own deal with HB Antwerp.
In 2022, HB Antwerp partnered with Microsoft to track mined gems via blockchain, as consumers focus on clearing the supply chain of fraudsters and diamonds mined in war zones and sold to fund insurgencies.
Other diamond miners, including Anglo American’s unit De Beers, also use blockchain platforms to trace their diamonds and verify authenticity.
Botswana has reached an eleventh-hour deal with diamond giant De Beers after months of tense negotiations that saw the continent’s top producer threatening to cut ties with the storied company.
The Botswana government and Anglo-American, the majority owner of De Beers, have reached an “agreement in principle”, the two sides said in a statement issued late Friday.
The agreement provides for a new 10-year agreement to sell the rough diamonds produced by Debswana — a joint venture equally owned by the government and De Beers — and a 25-year extension of its mining licenses.
The agreement also gives Botswana an increased 30 percent of diamond production for sale via the state-owned Okavango Diamond Company, progressively increasing to 50 percent in the final year of the contract, De Beers said in a separate statement on Saturday.
No value was given for the agreement.
The previous 2011 sale agreement between the southern African country, one of the continent’s richest, and the world’s largest diamond company by value, was extended exceptionally until June 30, 2023, due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Under terms negotiated by the two sides in 2011, De Beers received 90 percent of the rough diamonds mined, while Botswana had 10 percent to sell itself.
In 2020, Botswana’s share was hiked to 25 percent.
President Mokgweetsi Masisi had threatened to cut ties with the company if the latest talks proved unfavourable for his country.
“If we don’t achieve a win-win situation each party will have to pack its bags and go,” he said in February.
The country turned up the heat the following month by announcing it would soon conclude an agreement to take a 24 percent stake in the Belgian diamond manufacturer HB Antwerp.
Last year, De Beers obtained about 70 percent of its rough diamonds from Botswana.
Diamond mining accounts for a third of the landlocked country’s GDP.
Botswana will not back down on demands for a bigger share of rough diamonds from its joint venture with De Beers, President Mokgweetsi Masisi said on Thursday, upping the stakes as talks for a new sales deal appear to be stalling.
Botswana and De Beers mine the precious stones through their equally owned, 54-year-old mining venture, Debswana Diamond Co. The current diamond sales deal, in place since 2011, has been extended three times since 2020 but is set to expire next month.
De Beers, a unit of Anglo American Plc, gets 75% of Debswana’s production, which was 24 million carats in 2022. The balance is sold to state-owned Okavango Diamond Company, a vehicle established in 2011 as Botswana began moves to independently sell some gems outside of the De Beers system.
Masisi, who has been Botswana’s president since 2018 and will seek re-election in next year’s elections, now wants Botswana to sell more of its diamonds outside the De Beers channel.
“Our agreement with De Beers is very restrictive to us. We signed it at a time when we didn’t know much, but now our eyes are open,” Masisi said at a community meeting in Mmadinare, 400 kilometres (248.55 miles) north-east of the capital, Gaborone.
Masisi hinted at a possible stalemate and litigation over the sales agreement.
“Even if we lose the litigation, our diamonds will remain ours and we will never give in. If I am going to lose votes because of this issue, then so be it,” said Masisi, speaking in Setswana.
Masisi has previously threatened to walk away from the talks if Botswana does not get a bigger share of Debswana’s output for marketing outside the De Beers system. The government has not publicly stated what share it seeks, but it is believed to be as high as 50%, double the current allocation.
De Beers was not immediately available to comment.
The diamond giant says Botswana receives more than 80% of returns from Debswana, after taxes and royalties are factored in. De Beers has previously expressed confidence that its five-decade partnership with Botswana will continue, on terms “that make economic and strategic sense for both parties.”
Botswana may not renew a five-decade sales agreement with De Beers if the diamond producer doesn’t offer a larger share of rough diamonds to the state’s gem trading company, Okavango Diamond Company (ODC).
The move comes after the southern Africa nation acquired last month a 24% stake in Belgian diamond processing firm HB Antwerp for an undisclosed sum.
Analysts saw this deal as a way for Botswana to loosen the Anglo American-owned miner’s grip on its diamond sector, which is a major source of employment and tax revenue for the country.
De Beers and Botswana jointly own Debswana, which mines almost all of the roughs gems in the country — the world’s second-largest diamond producing nation after Russia.
The partnership has helped Botswana become one of Africa’s fastest growing economies, while supplying De Beers 75% of Debswana’s rough diamonds, which are then sorted and sold to sightholders around the world.
Debswana’s diamond sales hit a record $4.6 billion in 2022, compared to $3.4 billion in 2021.
President Mokgweetsi Masisi has threatened to walk away from the talks if Botswana does not get a larger share of Debswana’s output for marketing outside the De Beers system.
The government has not publicly stated what share it seeks, but it is believed to be as high as 50%, double its current allocation.
The two parties have been negotiating for several years to extend their 2011 mining rights and sales agreement, which is due to expire in June this year.
“Colonial” model Rafael Papismedov, co-founder of HB Antwerp, told the Financial Times that a revised deal would help Botswana break free from the current model of being “stuck in a box that says you can only dig and wash the diamonds.”
Papismedov added that De Beers’ operating model carries on “colonization” principles, acting as if Botswana was incapable of building midstream capabilities for polishing diamonds.
Masisi wants more locals employed in the diamond sector, which accounts for a fifth of the country’s gross domestic product.
The largest diamond producer by value has said it is confident that it can maintain its partnership with Botswana, but that some of the negotiations are complex and require more time.
De Beers has said that the arrangement must make economic and strategic sense for both parties, adding that it is committed to supporting Botswana’s aspirations to grow its diamond industry.
The stakes are high for both sides, as they seek to secure their future in a volatile and competitive industry that has been hit by the covid-19 pandemic, changing consumer preferences and ethical concerns.
A new deal between Botswana and De Beers could have significant implications for the global diamond supply chain and the balance of power in the sector.
HB Antwerp has announced a partnership with Botswana to foster a new generation of diamond talent.
It has signed a a five-year memorandum of understanding with the Botswana International University of Science and Technology (BIUST).
They will jointly organize traineeships for Botswanan youth, offer scholarships for promising local talent, drive innovative projects backed by digital supply chains, and create job opportunities in the diamond sector.
The move comes as Botswana threatens to walk away from its long-standing sales agreement with De Beers, which is due for renewal at the end of June.
There has been media speculation that the Okavango Diamond Company (ODC), wholly owned by the Botswana government, was planning to sell its specials (+10.8-carats) to Belgian manufacturer HB Antwerp and to Canada-based Lucara and instead of De Beers.
HB Antwerp says it promotes respect for local communities, fair labor and pay, and investment in skills training and job placement opportunities for local workers.
Rafael Papismedov, its managing partner and strategy director, said: “Young people in Africa have incredible potential, but often do not have access to meaningful opportunities.
“We believe in the power of diamonds to catalyze positive change and look forward to leveraging this partnership to deliver on that potential for the Botswanan people.”
Botswana’s finance ministry disclosed that the diamond trade in Botswana is set to fall back in 2023, due to reduced demand. This is as opposed to 2022 when Botswana’s total mining production increased by 8.2%. Botswana anticipates that the production of diamonds would fall by 1% in 2023, and growth in the diamond trade will decrease to 7%. An official from Botswana’s finance ministry stated on Wednesday that Botswana anticipates its mining sector’s production to remain flat this year as the diamond business loses its luster as a result of a decline in consumer spending and reduced demand for diamond jewelry.
In 2022, the total mining production increased by 8.2%. Although Botswana is the continent’s biggest producer of diamonds, this year’s improvements in copper and coal will not make up for the fall in this commodity.
About the majority of Botswana’s diamonds are produced by Debswana, a joint venture between the government of Botswana and De Beers, a division of Anglo American Plc (AAL.L). In 2022, production increased by 8% to 24.1 million carats.
Trading in diamonds increased 41% in the last year, with Botswana also benefiting from Western consumers avoiding Russian stones as a result of its invasion of Ukraine.
Botswana anticipates that the production of diamonds would fall by 1% in 2023 and that growth in the diamond trade will decrease to 7% from 41% in 2018.
Botswana’s finance ministry senior policy advisor, Keith Jefferis expressed the same sentiments in a statement to the American-based news agency, Reuters.
He noted that the diamond trade would face a major setback during the year, due to a slowdown in consumer demand, particularly in the USA.
He stated, “We see the diamond sector having a bit of a tough year due to an expected slowdown in consumer demand particularly in the USA, because of pressure on real income and consumption.”
High demand for coal and anticipated increases in copper mine production will somewhat offset this.
The Motheo copper mine, owned by Sandfire Resources (SFR.AX), is scheduled to begin operations this year, while the Kalahari Copperbelt’s Khoemacau copper mine is ramping up production to reach its nominal capacity of 60,000 tonnes annually.
The two active coal mines in Botswana the state-owned Morupule and Minergy’s (MIN.BT) Masama mine saw record exports in 2017 and are now considering increasing output to keep up with the country’s high demand for coal internationally.
According to forecasts from the finance ministry, the government anticipates mining royalties to decrease from 6.1 billion pula ($3.41 billion) last year to 4,5 billion pula ($3.41 billion) in 2023. The amount of dividends owed to the state would likewise decrease, from 15 billion to 11,3 billion pesos, in 2022.
A new list names the Jwaneng diamond mine, in Botswana, as the world’s richest diamond mine.
A new list by miningintelligence.com, quoted by IDEX Online, names the Jwaneng diamond mine, in Botswana, as the world’s richest diamond mine for the first three quarters of 2022. Jwaneng produced 10.3 million carats in 2022.
Orapa, also in Botswana, came second with 8 million carats. Both Jwaneng and Orapa are operated by Debswana, a partnership between De Beers and the government of Botswana. Jwaneng and Orapa were also listed as the two highest value diamond mines in the world, estimated at $1.25 billion and $976 million respectively, “based on average historic annualized prices of $121.5 per carat,” according to the report.
Alrrosa’s Udachny mine came third. Although Alrosa has not published production figures since the war with Ukraine, miningintelligence.com bases its conclusion on the mine’s 2021 production of 4.6 million carats. Fourth comes the Venetia mine in South Africa 4.6m carats, operated by De Beers. In fifth is Nyurba, in Russia, with 3.6 million carats, based on 2021 numbers.