Monday, April 12, 2021

De Beers, Botswana enter into a new marriage

De Beers, the world’s largest diamond producer, hailed the appointment of the new board of directors to DTC Botswana, which is expected to start operation early next year, saying “it is a very important development” in the two parties relations that span well over 40 years.

The appointment of the board on Tuesday will throw the initiative to establish DTC Botswana into new gear and will enable the skills transfer from London to Gaborone ahead of the project.

Varda Shine, head of De Beers diamond trading arm, DTC London, told The Sunday Standard in an exclusive interview that DTC Botswana will get support in three major areas: sorting and selling, support and assistance in cutting and polishing, the establishment of diamond banks, It and security companies. Further, they will help the fledgling DTC Botswana to run as a commercial operation so that it can benefit its shareholders.

“Compared to diamond trading companies in the region, Botswana will get more attention. This is because Botswana is a very important friend of De Beers and the diamond world,” she said.

Shine said that DTC Botswana is special in a number of aspects such as treating larger volumes of rough diamonds and the fact that government has requested a special trading policy.

Under the trading policy that was finalized on Tuesday afternoon, the Botswana government wants all diamonds to be sorted and sold through DTC Botswana and for them to be polished in the country to ensure that they leave as finished goods.

“The trading policy also advocates aspects of best practice to ensure that goods ethical and ensure that diamonds are best thing to buy,” she added.
“This will also ensure that those who are empowered to run the process are being checked to ensure that they are delivering on the process,” Shine said.
Botswana, through the four mines of Damtshaa, Jwaneng, Letlhakane and Orapa, account for 60 percent of diamonds sold by De Beers every year. And the mines are jointly owned by the Botswana government and De Beers on a 50/50 basis under the flagship Debswana Diamond Company.

Under the DTC Botswana agreement, which is also 50/50 owned by the two parties, Botswana will sort and sell part of the produce to De Beers’ 16 sightholders who are accredited to operate in Botswana.
Further, the agreement specified that De Beers will build DTC Botswana at a cost of US $ 450 million (about P2.7billion) which will include the state-of-the-art technology expected to be shipped into the country in the next week. According to the plan, all the current employees of the Botswana Diamond Valuing Company (BDVC), standing at 500, will be transferred to the new building by January next year.

DTC Botswana is expected to handle gem-stone to the value of US 550 million per annum.

“I think that DTC Botswana will make a very interesting partnership,” Shine said.

The new board is made up of De Beers and Botswana government representatives. De Beers representatives are; Varda Shine (DTC London Managing Director), Sheila Khama (Chief Executive Officer, De Beers Botswana), Mike Page (Executive Director, Finance DTC London), Paul Rowley (Executive Director, Rough Diamond Division DTC London) and Ellen Lamparter (Executive Director, Human Resources, DTC London). The Botswana government is represented by the country’s leading mining expert and deputy permanent secretary in the ministry of Minerals, Energy and Water Affairs, Kago Moshashane, Bank of Botswana Governor, Linah Mohohlo, Attorney General, Athalia Molokomme, Kelapile Ndobano, deputy permanent secretary in the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning and the country negotiator in the Kimberly Process and Director of Mines, Jacob Thamage.


Read this week's paper