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Mines to Market Conference Opens in Mumbai
Important mining companies and countries participate
By: Diamond World News Service
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Oct 13 2010 10:00AM
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Reference: 5394  

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Mines to Market, the bi-annual International Diamond Conference organised by The Gem & Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC) got off to a strong start on Tuesday with presentations by senior representatives of many of the important mining companies and countries discussing questions related to the post crisis scenario, supply, demand, marketing, beneficiation, Kimberley Process and other critical issues facing the industry.

The Conference was inaugurated in the morning by Chief Guest Hon’ble Jyotiraditya Scindia, Minister of State, Commerce & Industry, Government of India. Hon’ble Obert Mpofu, Minister of Mines, Zimbabwe, Rajiv Jain, Chairman, Sanjay Kothari, Vice Chairman, Vasant Mehta, former Chairman and Sabyasachi Ray, Executive Director, GJEPC were also on stage during the session.

The Minister welcomed the overseas delegations and expressed the hope that the Conference would further cement ties between the Indian industry and the participating companies and countries. Outlining India’s leading position in the diamond sector, he stressed that the industry needed to enhance its marketing efforts to face the challenges from other luxury sector goods. Prior to that, GJEPC Chairman Rajiv Jain spoke about the Indian industry’s role in helping the diamond industry pull through the crisis and projected a more pro-active role for the country as its aims to become the worldwide leader of the diamond industry. He ended by saying, “If the Mines to Market conference provides a successful and fruitful dialogue among all stakeholders and contributes to raising their levels of shared responsibility, of share values and commitments, then the GJEPC believes this meeting has achieved its aims.”

Conference moderator Chaim Even Zohar’s opening remarks, presented in tandem with Pranay Narvekar, Strategy Consultant, Rosy Blue, traced the ups and downs on both the supply and demand side over the last few years. In a detailed presentation based on a statistical analysis of market data and consequent projections for the short term future, they noted that the industry was recovering from the crisis of the last two years and there would be marginal positive growth of 0.4% this year. However, because of the ‘ripple effect’ (where a fall in retail demand translates into a significantly larger drop in polished demand), they projected that the industry would still be way below the pre-crisis levels -- about 9% below 2008 and a massive 17% below 2007. In the context of the ongoing debate on the export of diamonds from Zimbabwe’s Marange fields, Even Zohar warned against attempts at ‘politicisation’ of the diamond industry and the Kimberley Process saying that this could have a harmful effect on rough supply, and specifically criticised the proposed US move to create a KP Plus group within the larger audit system set up by member countries to guard against the threat of conflict diamonds.

The Keynote Address by former CEO De Beers Group Gareth Penny, which he himself described as a valedictory, looked at “Where we were”, “Where we are”, and “What does the future hold?’. Hailing the transformation of the Indian industry over the last few decades, Penny referred to current challenges -- stagnant or declining supplies, shifts in consumer preferences and the need for greater investment in marketing to promote the romance of the diamond and enhance the consumer’s retail experience. But he also noted “Manufacturers need not spend millions of dollars on advertising, but must build partnerships with those who do.” Penny traced the dramatic rise of the diamond markets in India and China and pointed to De Beers’ projections that they will jointly almost equal the US market by 2016.

Following this Varda Shine, MD, DTC traced the marketing strategy that had been followed since the implementation of SoC, and elaborated on some of the proposed changes in the new contracts and the distribution system for rough that are being tried out as a pilot project currently. She said that the aim was to bring added dynamism to the current mechanism. Shine also focused on the opportunity being provided by the Chinese and Indian markets, and concluded her presentation by taking about the Forevermark activity in China and its proposed launch in India by December.

The Conference reconvened for the afternoon session which started with Rajiv Mehta of Dimexon presenting the India story. He looked at the larger changes taking place in the country and the resultant opening up of the market which now presents an excellent opportunity for growth. Analysing the development of India’s diamond industry, he traced the advancement from the Foundation stage of the 1970s and 1980s to the Transformation stage from the 90s till now when India emerged as a world leader.

Mehta concluded that the industry could now advance further only by focusing on value creation, and that it had already done so successfully in other sectors.

The last session of the day saw presentations by the Rough producers -- Hon’ble Obert Mpofu of Zimbabwe; Jacob Thamage, on behalf of Botswana; Jean Marc Lieberherr of Rio Tinto and Leonid Tolpezhnikov from Alrosa.

Each speaker presented the present status of their rough production and the projections for the future, and expressed the hope that they would forge stronger ties with the India centre. The Minister from Zimbabwe strongly opposed the allegations about Human Rights abuses in his country, criticised the embargo on exports from Marange and said it would have a disastrous impact on the welfare of livelihood of people employed in mining.

The day ended with a presentation by Cecilia Gardner of the Jewelers Vigilance Committee, USA who discussed the legal implications of many US Government legislations.

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