Namibia moves away from De Beers

Felix Njini
Namibia, which produces the world’s highest quality diamonds from the floor of the Atlantic Ocean, is negotiating to sell some of the gems separately from an agreement it has with Anglo American plc’s De Beers unit. The government is setting up a company to sell part of the diamonds mined by Namdeb Diamond Corp, the joint-venture it owns equally with De Beers, mines and energy minister Isak Katali said last week. The project, emulating an initiative by neighbouring Botswana, depends on a deal with De Beers, he said. “For the company to operate, there has to be an agreement with De Beers,” said Katali, adding that Namibia won’t initially want to market 50 percent of Namdeb’s production. “We are being guided by the Botswana example.”

Botswana’s Okavanago Diamond Co started selling 13 percent of the country’s gems in December, after De Beers agreed to a new 10-year marketing pact. Namibia expects negotiations on setting up the new diamond company to be completed by December, said Katali.

Namibia is also renegotiating its diamond-marketing agreement with De Beers, which expired in December.

Namibia’s marine diamonds sell for US$450 to US$700 per carat, at least triple the price of gems from neighbouring Botswana and as much as 14 times those from Zimbabwe, the country’s Diamonds Commissioner Kennedy Hamutenya said in March.

 

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