The Diamond Trading Company Botswana (DTC Botswana) leapt to action last week as it installed the world’s leading sorting and valuing technology that will place the country on a fast-track gear as the leading diamond centre across the globe.
The latest move is part of the larger scheme which is aimed ultimately to break a long standing secretive business from London to Gaborone in the next three years.
The installation of the state-of-the-art diamond sorting technology, which was developed at the DTC International Research and Development (R&D) Centre in Maidenhead-United Kingdom, was overseen by board members last week ÔÇô including De Beers’s apparent heir, Jonathan Oppenheimer.
“The machines are designed for the sole use of the sorting and valuing operations of De Beers and its partners. This gives the family of companies a distinct strategic advantage over competitors,” the company said last week.
DTC Botswana is a 50/50 joint venture between the world’s leading diamond producing company, De Beers, and the Republic of Botswana. The company came about as a result of the renewal of Jwaneng Mine leasing agreement that was made mid last year.
Further, it comes at a time when regional diamond producing countries are clamouring for beneficiation process which will ultimately see the world’s most secretive business being located outside London for the first time in over 300 years.
The machines were installed at DTC Botswana’s new buildingÔÇöwhich is equivalent to eight rugby fieldsÔÇöthat is along the road to Sir Seretse Khama International airport. They were installed by a team comprising nine employees from Maidenhead and citizen employees who were trained by DTC International.
Among them were design engineers, production engineers, installation and maintenance crew.
The 39 diamond sorting machines with a combined value of P 69 million occupy three floors, running a distance of one hundred meters each.
“These machines will be operated by skilled staff in conjunction with the traditional hand sorting techniques to enable the organisation to sort diamonds to exceptionally high levels of accuracy into colour, clarity and weight categories,” the company’s spokesperson based in London told The Sunday Standard last week.
DTC Botswana Managing Director, Brian McDonald, said, “This is another major milestone in the establishment of DTC Botswana and will help to ensure that the company becomes the catalyst in building a sustainable downstream diamond industry in Botswana. These machines will be maintained by skilled DTC Botswana service engineers who have been fully trained to maintain the equipment.
“De Beers and the Botswana Government are committed to use the DTC Botswana partnership as a vehicle to transfer skills to citizen employees,” said De Beers Botswana CEO, Sheila Khama.
The US $ 4 00 million new building, which is currently experiencing some delays, is expected to be completed by February next year with the handing over in March.”
The building is expected to mark another milestone in the history of the diamond industry in Botswana following the movement of the sorting and valuing from Debswana House in the 1980s to the present day Orapa HouseÔÇöwhich is owned by De Beers. The new building will come at a time when Botswana Diamond and Valuing CompanyÔÇöa subsidiary of Debswana ÔÇö will be liquidated with both Botswana government and De Beers opting to go along with DTC Botswana.
Further, it will have several teleconferencing facilities, diamond vaults built to withstand pressure from would-be robbers, state of the art security with CCTV cameras that can see from afar, and will have a restaurant at the ground floor with a capacity of taking 600 people at a go.
The plan had to be designed in such a way that in three years it will have to handle trade amounting to US $ 550 million but still with the budget of US $ 400 million.
“It will have the latest technology that was designed in house (London office) and it will be handed over in around first week of March,” McDonald has said.
Explaining the beneficiation process, Varda Shine who is DTC London’s head and chairperson of DTCBotswana, said what will be happening will be “adding value” to what has been happening.