Africa’s top diamond producer threatens to cut out De Beers – Bloomberg
Botswana will take a 24% stake in Belgian gem trader HB Antwerp, the country’s President Mokgweetsi Masisi stated on Monday, according to Bloomberg. The move could reportedly challenge the country’s decades-old agreement with South African diamond giant De Beers.
Masisi said that Botswana’s state gem trader will supply HB Antwerp with precious stones for five years.
The announcement comes as the Southern African nation has been negotiating a new agreement with De Beers, under which most of the country's gems would be mined by a joint venture. Botswana is Africa’s leading diamond producer and the second-largest worldwide after Russia.
Sales of the diamonds would still be handled by the South African company. However, Masisi reportedly threatened to walk away from the talks and praised how HB Antwerp handles the diamonds extracted at Botswana’s Karowe Mine, which is owned by Canadian mining company Lucara Diamond.
Masisi has previously warned that his country would abandon talks over the new sales deal and the extension of De Beers’ mining rights in the country unless Botswana were given a larger share of revenues. De Beers' mining rights expire in 2029, while the diamond sales agreement ends in June 2023.
Under the current deal, Debswana, a joint venture between De Beers and the Botswana government, will sell 75% of its output to De Beers, while 25% goes to the state-owned Okavango Diamond Company. Formed in 1968, Debswana supplies more than two thirds of De Beers’ diamonds, and revenue from the precious stones accounts for more than 30% of Botswana’s GDP.
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