De Beers, Botswana Start Discussions Over 'New Marriage'

Mining and Exploration
22/11/2018 16:39

Discussions between the Government of Botswana and De Beers Group are already underway as the long-standing partners look to strike a new deal. The current 10-year agreement for the sorting, valuing and sales of Debswana’s diamond production (Debswana is a 50/50 mining joint venture between Botswana and De Beers) is set to expire at the end of 2020. Botswana is reportedly pushing for a larger stake in its "new marriage" with De Beers ahead of the negotiations for the next sales agreement, writes The Southern Times. Botswana President Mokgweetsi Eric Masisi previously indicated he wants a new long-term diamond-sales deal in place when the current one expires, and for more gems to be processed locally. He said the conclusion of an accord is crucial for Botswana, which relies on diamonds for almost a fifth of its gross domestic product, as well as De Beers, which gets about two-thirds of its gems from the southern African nation. 

Masisi is said to be pushing for the industry to create more jobs and is “dead determined” that more diamonds be cut and polished in the country. In addition to expanding beneficiation initiatives in cutting and polishing, Masisi want to see them extend further downstream into jewelry manufacturing and retail, said to be key objectives of Botswana’s economic diversification drive in the diamond sector. Additionally, local media reports have indicated that Botswana wants nothing less than have a, "greater say in the determination of prices within the rough diamond sector, as a priority for the next deal with De Beers”. Reports indicate that while the government of Botswana has its own valuators, De Beers nearly singlehandedly controls the value of diamonds emerging from Debswana, using the price book, which in turn determines government’s mineral revenues. President Masisi is looking for greater collaboration, but no one doubts that the deal will get done. President Masisi said a team has already been assembled to kick-start the negotiations for the next deal agreement, emphasizing, "This partnership is destined to continue even stronger than ever before."

In related news, Debswana Diamond Company has appointed Albert Milton as managing director, effective December 1, following the retirement of Balisi Bonyongo. Bonyongo had been with the company for 26 years and had served as managing director from January 2014. Milton has worked at Debswana for more than 25 years, and has been general manager of the Jwaneng asset in Botswana since 2013. He has held management positions at a number of other De Beers projects, including the Orapa, Venetia, Letlhakane and Damtshaa mines.