De Beers Extending Sightholder Contracts Through ’12

De Beers is extending its sightholders’ contracts until March 2012, instead of having them run out as originally planned in April 2011.

Diamond Trading Company managing director Varda Shine told JCK the economic downturn spurred the action.

"People take forever to fill out the sightholder profiles and we take forever to score them," she said. "It would actually be much better if the market focussed on reviving the business."

The company also felt that "it was better to judge people in a normal year," Shine said.

This move extends the current contract period to four years. Shine expects it will revert to the standard three-year period after next April.

The DTC is also looking at whether it should require its sightholders to join the Responsible Jewellery Council, as its rivals BHP and Rio Tinto have done.

"We would like it if we could save people the duplication and have it that, by applying to one, you are automatically applying to the other," she said. "It’s something that the Best Practice Principles team is working very closely with the RJC team on."

The company is also looking at ways to "simplify" the contract process and make it "less bureaucratic."

Shine added she believes "the worst of the current economic crisis is over. There is a great story going on in India and China. In the U.S., we are seeing more confidence, though it is dangerous to think we are back in 2007 or 2008. We are seeing improvement but it is from a low base. We are moving in the right direction but it will take time."

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