Rapaport’s Sarah Jordan lists five common misconceptions about the diamond industry and lets industry experts explain the difference between myth and reality.
Myth: Customers are significantly at risk of buying a conflict diamond
Reality: The Kimberley Process alongside a multitude of legislation and self-regulation are a guarantee that 99.8% of diamonds are conflict-free.
South Africa has suspended implementation of a contentious and highly criticized mining ownership law pending a judgement in an urgent interdict application by mining companies, the country’s Chamber of Mines said. South African mineral resources minister, Mosebenzi Zwane, has agreed not to implement the current redraft of the Mining Charter Three pending judgement of an urgent interdict brought by the Chamber of Mines, a temporary victory for the miners.
According to a report by Martin Creamer in Mining Weekly Online, South Africa's Minerals Minister Mosebenzi Zwane has taken the seemingly odd decision to deny diamond mining company De Beers Consolidated Mines (DBCM) an exemption from a 5% levy on exports of rough diamonds to Botswana for aggregation.
De Beers Group today announced the value of rough diamond sales (Global Sightholder Sales and Auction Sales) for the fourth sales cycle of 2017, provisionally valued at $520 million. The fact that sales remain solid as the summer slowdown looms indicates continuaing upbeat sentiment in the manufacturing sector, spurring demand. Cycle 4 sales were down 11% from the revised figure of $586 million sold at the last sight (contract sales session) and slipped 18% from the fourth cycle a year ago.
Botswana's diamond cutting industry faces another blow as more jobs are lost due to the fact India based Shrenuj, one of the largest diamond cutting and the single jewelry manufacturing facility in the country, is closing shop. Parent company Shrenuj & C° has been troubled by financial woes over the past months, with reports claiming some 20 Indian banks are said to have exposure to the groups entities amounting to US$450 million which Shrenuj is failing to pay back.
The Namibian newspaper has raised concerns that a new government independent sales company called Namib Desert Diamonds (Namdia), which is designated to sell stones worth over an estimated US$150 million (N$2.1 billion) per year as stipulated by a 10-year agreement between De Beers and the Namibian government, is allegedly operating without the desired level of transparency when it comes to selling Namibian resources.
Opportunities for growth within our industry will not be possible if we, as industry players, do not work together through partnerships. If we do not engage as a region, we are at risk of a missed opportunity that might lead to regional competition, to the detriment of our industry. Whether we are regulators, producers, cutters and polishers or jewellery manufacturers, until we recognise and increase our interdependency as partners, we will never get our local diamond industry back on its feet.
De Beers has selected five black-owned cutting and polishing companies for special attention towards meeting the South African government’s demands for beneficiation of the country’s mineral wealth, writes Business Day. Mpumi Zikalala, a director of De Beers Consolidated Mines – the South African division of De Beers – said the companies would receive assistance and "bespoke" rough diamond supplies to ensure they could compete locally and overseas.
The mining industry in Lesotho is still in its infancy, writes Mining Weekly, but is developing and has great potential, says Lesotho Mining Minister Lebohang Thotanyana.
DiamondCorp (Southern African) reports that it has earned substantial sales on a beneficiation diamond from the Lace diamond mine in the Free State province of South Africa, revealing the upside to cutting, polishing and selling its own high quality stones. The 22.1 carat H coloured diamond sold to the Company's beneficiation joint venture in January this year has been manufactured into two high quality diamonds - a 7.2 carat F colored VVS2 emerald cut diamond and a 0.9 carat E colored VS1 pear shaped diamond. The two polished stones have been sold for a total of US$261,361.
De Beers' CEO Philippe Mellier says the company's commitment to the country of Namibia and their partnership through Nabdeb remains firm even in challenging times the diamond industry experienced last year, reports The Namibian. He said despite volatility in the market throughout 2015, De Beers believes that the sector's outlook is promising, with Namibia playing a key role in its future.
Namibia's desire for beneficiation of its diamonds will require large-scale investment and big sacrifices by the country's population, says Professor Roman Grynberg, a senior research fellow at the Botswana Institute for Development Policy Analysis, a nongovernmental research organization. The government and people of Namibia will have to ask themselves if the high costs involved are worthwhile. He also writes that Botswana and Namibia have to recognize that there is currently no commercial advantage to cutting and polishing stones domestically, miningweekly.com reports.
A diamond cutting and polishing firm is to be established in Sierra Leone more than a decade and a half after the last one was closed, following a visit by a large business delegation from Belgium, starafrica.com cited sources as saying. Sierra Leone diamonds are currently taken to neighboring countries, like Guinea and Liberia, for cutting and polishing before being flown out. Government officials say the aim is to create jobs at home.
For many in Botswana, the discovery in November of the second-largest diamond ever found, weighing 1,111 carats, simply puts the spotlight on how little diamonds are helping the country's citizens, the Guardian reports, with national diamond miner Debswana channeling just $1.36 million annually to corporate social responsibility projects. “Debswana has a CSR fund – it’s more like a public relations fund,” said Victor Thanke, chair of the Zowa Development Trust, an NGO based in Letlhakane where there is a diamond mine, a settlement in Boteti.
Diamond industry analyst Avi Krawitz writes for Rapaport News that, "Fifty years on from independence, Botswana still finds itself in desperate need of improvements in its economic diversity. Its unsustainable reliance on diamonds is the reason why." The country's economic success story over the last fifty years is almost entirely attributable to the development of its diamond industry, but over-dependence on diamonds - last year the industry contributed 33% of Botswana's GDP - leaves it vulnerable to a downturn in the market, such as we have seen in 2015.
Arid Botswana has finalised a deal with South Africa and Lesotho to tap some of the water from the Lesotho Highlands Water Project. Botswana’s Minister of Mineral, Energy and Water Resources Minister, Onkodame Kitso Mokaila confirmed this at a conference in Gaborone on the diamond industry. The conference addressed the problem of the sustainability of diamond industry beneficiation, but also focused more broadly on the problem of how to diversify Botswana’s economy away from diamonds.
The International Diamond Conference 2015 in Windhoek, Namibia got underway today, as did the Connecting Resources and Society in Gaborone, Botswana. The Windhoek conference will address challenges facing diamond beneficiation in Southern Africa and how the industry can be made viable and sustainable. The Namibian government has a 50-50 joint venture partnership with the De Beers Group and together they have implemented a long-term economic development plan that aims to build a self-sustainable national gem-cutting industry.
Diamond traders across the world are expected to congregate in Windhoek, Namibia from November 24 to 27 for this year’s International Diamond Conference, coordinated by industry expert Chaim Even-Zohar. The conference would take the form of a unique forum for dialogue and cooperation between industry leaders at the highest level.
South Africa should consider cooperating with other countries in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region to bring about diamond beneficiation opportunities since its beneficiation aims match those of SADC members such as Botswana, Namibia, Angola, Zimbabwe and Tanzania, said De Beers Consolidated Mines executive chairperson Barend Petersen. “We need to consider the benefits that we can derive as a region and individual countries if we collaborate to establish SADC as a diamond beneficiation hub,” he said at South Africa’s first diamond Indaba.
Laurelton Reign Diamonds, a joint venture between Tiffany & Co's Laurelton Diamonds and Namibia's Reign Investments, is set to reopen its state-of-the-art diamond-cutting and polishing factory in Namibia after closing the doors on its Windhoek factory last August. The factory, which opened in 2007, shut down after Laurelton Diamonds pulled out of the joint venture, leaving 157 workers on the streets.
At the South African Mining Indaba (Conference), the State Diamond Trader said the government should force mining companies to avail a higher portion of their stones (currently 10%) for cutting and polishing inside the country as a means to reversing the decimation of the country's once-thriving diamond manufacturing industry.
On the eve of the South African Mining Indaba meeting in South Africa, dedicated to “enabling South Africa to become the heartbeat of diamond beneficiation in Africa.”, Miningmx.com journalist Brendan Ryan critizes South Africa's policy for diamond beneficiation, which he says resulted in the demise of the local cutting industry, a situation that only worsened when the last major manufacturer - Zlotowski - recently announced it will close shop by February 2016.
Despite its rough diamond sales falling 14% to $9.5mil, alluvial mining company Rockwell Diamonds has reported a Q2 net profit of $1.2 million on the back of a 32% increase in total revenue (yoy), which was "driven mainly through the unlocking of value in the beneficiation pipeline as well as the impact of eliminating operating losses at Niewejaarskraal following its suspension in April 2015." Beneficiation revenue increased 277% to more than 6.7 million.
South Africa's Democratic Alliance' minerals specialist, James Lorimer says that with the last big manufacturing company now gone - Zlotowski Diamond Cutting Works, a subsidiary of Chow Tai Fook - South Africa's beneficiation is nearly completely destructed, reducing the amount of diamond cutters from 4,500 to a mere 200 today. Lorimer said inadequate government policy and legislation - ignoring industry advice - alongside high labor costs have resulted in what he called "a catastrophe for the South African manufacturing industry".
With preparations being finalized for the Zimbabwe Diamond Technology Centre (ZDTC) to open a cutting and polishing center serving the southern African region, the chairman of ZDTC, Mr. Lovemore Kurotwi, has called for the goverment to cease exporting rough diamonds in order to maximise profits through beneficiation. He claimed that Zimbabwe was losing millions of dollars and missing out on employment creation opportunities by exporting their product elsewhere.
The Zimbabwe Diamond Technology Centre (ZDTC) - featuring $1 million worth of new laser technology from Indian firm Sahajanand - will soon offer cutting and polishing training to the southern African region as the company seeks to promote local value addition of diamonds across African producers. ZDTC chairman Lovemore Kurotwi told journalists, "I have signed a memorandum of understanding with some southern African countries. Botswana will send their people for training...
Namibia Diamond Trading Company (NDTC) paid the Windhoek government $4.6 million (N$60 million) in dividends, Agence de Presse Africaine reported yesterday. Namibia Diamond Trading Company (NDTC) was established in 2007 to make rough diamonds available to the local manufacturing sector, as part of the government's efforts of create jobs and value addition to the country's diamond resources.
According to Mines and Mining Development Minister Walter Chidhakwa, prices of local diamonds could increase 10-20% per carat as a result of a new system that requires them to be cleaned before auction, and the government has set up the Zimbabwe Boiling Facility to do just that. Not only will the new system improve the value of local diamonds, he says, but it will save the country money by not having to send the diamonds outside the country to be cleaned - a practice which also resulted in diamonds receiving lower grades.
The head of the World Federation of Diamond Bourses answers question on a wide range of issue of concern to the global diamond industry, including sales, declining profitability, finance, overgrading, generic marketing and the challenges of beneficiation.
Avi Krawitz of Rapaport News spoke with Futhi Zikalala, CEO of the State Diamond Trader about the numerous challenges it has faced since its establishment in 2007, with internal and external factors affecting diamond manufacturing and beneficiation in South Africa. The trader was established to provide access to rough diamonds for local beneficiation and contribute to industry growth through research and necessary intervention. Its focus is to develop historically disadvantaged individuals in South Africa.
Botswana, the leading global diamond producer in value terms, has been leading its peers in Africa on beneficiation. It established the Diamond Hub to promote beneficiation, a move bolstered when the country signed a deal with De Beers earning it 10% of Debswana’s production in 2011, rising to 15% in 2016. It also set up the Okavango Diamond Trading Company to market and sell diamonds gained through this agreement.
The Sunday Standard looks back at the Botswana Resource Sector Conference in interviews with Minister of Minerals, Energy and Water Resources Kitso Mokaila, Debswana Managing Director (MD) Balisi Bonyongo and Mmetla Masire, the Botswana Diamond Hub Coordinator. The main themes discussed were beneficiation and sustainability.
Abbey Chikane, the first chairman of the Kimberley Process, talks to Rough & Polished’s Mathew Nyaungwa about his prescription for diamond beneficiation in southern Africa. Chikane identifies five key issues to address for diamond beneficiation to succeed in southern Africa: a constant supply of rough, access to capital, expertise, technology and lowering the cost of production - energy in particular. He also spoke about the need for aggregation: "Beneficiation is not feasible without [a constant] supply of rough.
The future of diamond-cutting in Sudbury, Ont., remains unclear as De Beer’s Victor mine is set to operate only for the next four years, removing its highest quality supplier of stones.
According to The Financial Gazettte, more than 10 local diamond cutting and polishing companies are not operating because diamond miners have failed to supply raw diamonds for cutting and polishing. This is despite government announcing that it is pursuing value addition and beneficiation as key pillars of its economic revival and empowerment policy.
The dream of southern African countries finally beneficiating their own minerals, and having their diamonds cut locally as opposed to in foreign countries such as Belgium, Israel and India, is coming ever closer to reality. The SADC Summit of Heads of State and Government in Harare approved the Regional Strategy and Roadmap for Industrialisation, whereby regional governments have agreed to find concrete ways to diversify trade, beneficiate their own minerals and create regional value chains.
Africa’s major diamond producing nations expressed unwillingness to compromise government revenue from rough diamond sales to support local manufacturers in the current weak market. "We are not willing to forego profits from diamond mining activities [to support polished diamond manufacturing]," said Jacob Thamage, Diamond Hub coordinator at Botswana's Minerals, Energy and Water Resources Ministry. Botswana and other countries have embarked on a program in the past decade to develop its beneficiation industry in an effort to diversify the economy’s reliance on diamond mining.
The country's state-owned diamond firm, Endiama, says Angolan diamonds are to be used in locally manufactured jewelry in a bid to beneficiate its gems. Endiama President Antonio Carlos Sumbula said that the recently opened Angola Polishing Diamonds factory will manufacture jewelry together with international partners.
Teemane Manufacturing Co., a Botswana diamond cutter that has operated for more than 20 years and employs 320 people, will close this month as low prices for polished stones add to what it termed “commercial pressures.”
The Zimbabwe Diamond Conference is taking place in Harare this week, with "Completing Zimbabwe's diamond potential for the future" as a central theme. The conference will focus mainly on value addition and beneficiation as key elements for a sustainable socio-economic transformation of Zimbabwe. Participants will include African mines ministers, diamond mining companies including Alrosa, and world leading diamond manufacturers and traders. President Mugabe will attend the conference as well.