Diamonds / Industry

Botswana President Rebuts “Ditching De Beers” Report


Botswana’s president Mokgweetsi Masisi (pictured) is said to have rebutted a report in Botswanan newspaper Sunday Standard that said the country was “ditching De Beers” and planned to sell all its larger diamonds to rival miner Lucara.

The report was “ludicrous” and “false,” Masisi said, speaking at the Natural Diamond Summit in Gaborone, Botswana, according to Indian publication Diamond World.

Masisi also wrote on Facebook that Botswana was “committed” to investment in Debswana, the country’s 50-50 partnership with De Beers.

The report, which is not currently online and cited unnamed sources, said that Botswana’s government is “expected” to sell all its “special” rough (over 10.8 carats) through the state-owned Okavango Diamond Co. to a combination of Lucara Diamond and HB Antwerp.

“The Lucara/HB Antwerp proposition is hard act to follow for De Beers,” wrote the newspaper. “It promises a more than 45% increase in Botswana’s diamond revenue, thousands of jobs for Botswana, and a huge boost to the country’s GDP.”

Neither HB, Lucara, nor the Botswanan government returned requests for comment before publication, while De Beers referred JCK to the Diamond World article.

De Beers and Botswana forged a 10-year agreement in 2011. That was recently extended to 2023.

In July, Masisi said that Botswana is working on the fine points of its deal with De Beers and is “confident” that a new deal will be arranged, according to Bloomberg.

Lucara operates the Karowe mine in Botswana. In 2020, it signed a deal with HB Antwerp that called for Lucara to sell all its “special” rough (over 10.8 carats) diamonds to HB, which said the diamond’s eventual value would be determined by its polished outcome. Its structure called for Lucara to essentially extend credit to HB, something that is not commonly done in the diamond mining world.

Debswana operates four diamond mines in Botswana. Originally formed in 1969, it is considered the world’s leading diamond producer by value.

Photo courtesy of the Republic of Botswana

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By: Rob Bates

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