De Beers SA, the world?s leading diamond hunter and gatherer, said it is refocusing its efforts in Botswana and other southern African countries in an attempt to meet the diamonds supply gap prompted by the aging mines across the world.
The company, which is jointly owned by the Botswana government, the Oppenheimer family and Anglo-American, added that apart from southern Africa, it is also looking at Canada where it is about to open one of the richest diamond mines.
?The most important thing is focus. De Beers has areas in which it has targeted for primary diamond sources and is focusing its resources on those areas. Diligent prospecting, re-examining data and application of the state ?of- the ?art prospecting methods are key to our success,? it told The Sunday Standard.
Late last year, James Allan, principal of the Johannesburg-based corporate finance and advisory firm, James Allan and Associates, told World Diamond Conference in Perth, Australia, that the current global mine production was estimated at $11.3-billion by 2010.
Of that, Botswana, at 25 percent, and Canada and South Africa, each with around 15-16 percent of world output, would dominate production.
?Demand growth for diamonds over the next five years will be equivalent in value to around $4-billion and $5-billion,? Allan said.
?However, the diamond supply shortfall worth in value around $3-billion will start kicking in by 2008 and be fully evident by 2010.?
He said the immediate impact of this would be upward pressure on rough diamond prices, adding that it would, however, not be felt during 2006 and 2007. It would start rising after 2007 to balance the market shortfalls between 2008 and 2010.
?These rises will be in addition to the 35 percent rough diamond price rise evident since 2002. So the net impact is a production/demand deficit that will be exacerbated by declining South African production, reductions in diamond exploration spends and short-sighted efforts by some producers to focus on near-term mine development pipelines,? Allan said.
De Beers has put together US $ 140 million for prospecting and Debot- De Beers Botswana Prospecting?has US $ 94 million which is being used across the region.
As part of the larger plan, De Beers, which has a concession over swathes of land measuring 35,000 km2 in Botswana, formed strategic joint venture explorations with two London-AIM listed companies, African Diamonds and Firestone.
Further, it is also doing exploration work in Angola, DRC and South Africa, where it is also planning to open new rich mines.
In its new activities, De Beers has enlisted the new technologies that are being guided by gravity rather than human beings.
?Airborne geophysical surveys have been applied by De Beers and many other companies in many countries for many years. The specific new technology is airborne gravity gradiometer instrument from Bell Geospace that has been installed aboard Zeppelin airstrip,? the company said.
The new technology allows geologists to have a rapid deployment of gravity surveying that allows reproducing ground quality gravity at much greater productivity and covering a swathe of land within a short period.