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Diamond Industry to benefit from new Sightholders
SA government to issue licence to 11 sightholders to boost the already existing ones
By: Diamond World News Service
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Jun 24 2006 12:00AM
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Reference: 441  

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Two South African-based sightholders joined the Botswana diamond industry this week - a move government said would expedite the development of diamond-related competences. Permanent Secretary (PS) in the Ministry of Minerals, Energy and Water Resources, Dr Akolang Tombale announcement that the South African Diamond Corporation (Safdico) and Steinmetz increases the number of active sightholders from four to six. He said the decision is in line with governments ambition to establish the country as the worlds diamond trading centre. "Being the worlds largest diamond producer was not in itself enough and the countrys ambition was also to develop many other diamond-industry competencies," said Tombale, revealing that the decision inspired government to licence the 11 sightholders to boost the already existing ones.

The PS pointed out that Safdico and Steinmetz would join Molepolole-based Schedta-namdar, Diarough in Serowe and other two sightholders in Gaborone - EuroStar and Stargroup. This is a five-year licence agreement, of which sightholders have been cutting total rough diamonds valued at about P180 million. "We want a significant push up on that one," says Tombale. This development means that Botswana would have facilities that would not only service the Botswana diamond industry, but also the diamond industry of the world. Tombale said that adding value to diamonds within Botswana was an important advance. With half of the diamond industry involving services, the creation of the Diamond Technology Park expected to cost over P300 million would have an economic multiplier effect and would involve Batswana in services enterprises.

The park will also have the potential to provide work for Botswanas educated population. Tombale said while local companies had earlier expressed interest in sightholding, none of them presented an elaborate business plan. "It has been difficult to absorb locals. Batswana businesses did not meet our criteria," Tombale told Mmegi after the announcement. In 2004, De Beers marketing arm, the Diamond Trading Company (DTC) sightholder list contained 84 sightholders, a decrease from 120 sightholders in 2003, but the list included 10 new sightholders. Asked whether DTC would be able to supply 15 sightholders in Botswana with rough stones, Dr Tombale noted that currently they are adamant that supply will equal demand.

Debswana, a partnership between De Beers and the government currently produces over 31 million carats on an annual basis. The supply chain appears to be such that a significant proportion of rough stones will be expected from the six South African mines owned by De Beers (about 15 million carats); Namdeb produces over 2 million carats per year. De Beers has mines and mining interests in Tanzania, DRC, Angola, Canada and Russia.

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