World’s Largest Diamond Sorting Facility Opens

The largest and most advanced diamond sorting facility in the world was officially opened today by president of Botswana Festus G Mogae and Nicky Oppenheimer, chairman of De Beers Group.

Already the world’s largest producer of diamonds by value, the opening of the new technology driven facility establishes Botswana as the world leader in the sorting and valuation of rough diamonds, De Beers and the Government of the Republic of Botswana said in a joint statement.

The development and construction of the building was funded by De Beers, and will serve as the home of the Diamond Trading Company Botswana, a 50:50 joint venture between the Government of the Republic of Botswana and De Beers. 

Beneficiation, a strategy shared by the Government of Botswana and De Beers, ensures that a portion of Botswana’s most important natural resource stays in the country longer, so that value can be added through local companies and local expertise. This strategy of turning natural resources into shared national wealth is anticipated to stimulate the development of a new industry in Botswana and create approximately 3,000 new jobs in the country. The jobs, primarily in diamond cutting, polishing, sales and marketing, will account for a 30 percent increase in diamond industry jobs in Botswana and a 10 percent increase in the country’s total number of manufacturing jobs.

In addition, the two entities said that job creation in secondary business sectors such as banking, security and information technology will support Botswana’s economic vision to generate jobs and drive maximum value from the country’s diamond resources.

DTC Botswana will sort and value all rough diamonds produced by Debswana (a 50/50 joint venture between the Government of Botswana and De Beers to mine the country’s diamonds) and, for the first time in Botswana, perform local sales and marketing activities for rough diamonds. Through its Diamond Academy in Botswana, the DTC is ensuring the skills transfer, training and development of local employees. DTC Botswana will be the primary vehicle for creating a sustainable and profitable downstream industry.

In addition, the vast majority of De Beers’ global production will be aggregated in Botswana by DTC International by 2009.

“For the citizens of Botswana, the Diamond Trading Company Botswana will bring with it increased employment and training opportunities,” said President Mogae. “It will further provide Government with another significant revenue stream, to finance further development. It will also raise our nation’s global profile by becoming a benchmark brand of local excellence.”

Oppenheimer added, “The unique contribution that diamonds have made in countries like Botswana gives us cause to reflect on what lessons might be drawn from this success, and whether these might be deployed effectively elsewhere on the continent. We have, for example, learned the value of building local capacity through employing local people and ensuring local management of our operations; of supporting local businesses through preferential procurement and the provision of support through enterprise funds; of engaged support for initiatives that promote good governance and transparency; and we have learned the value of industry leadership in driving an ethical business that underwrites consumer confidence in diamonds. Above all we have learned that building strong mutually beneficial partnerships wherever we work creates a shared responsibility for success.”