THE new diamond sales agreement between De Beers and the government has brought hope to local diamond manufacturers that they will now start receiving enough and good quality diamonds for cutting and polishing.
In December last year, the manufacturers appealed to the government to save them from collapse.
At the end of last year only four of 13 diamond processing plants were still operating. Lack of diamonds, quality and the price were some of the factors cited for causing the collapse of the factories.
On Friday, Burhan Seber, managing director of Windhoek-based factory Hardstone Processing and a former president of the Diamond Manufacturers’ Association of Namibia told The Namibian that although the industry does not have all the details about the new sales agreement, he was happy that the deal with De Beers has been signed after prolonged negotiations.
He is hopeful that the new deal will increase supply to local factories given that the new deal will see the creation of a new state-owned diamond company and also that Namdeb Holdings will supply diamonds of all sizes, shapes and quality to Namibia Diamond Trading Company (NDTC) customers. Like Namdeb, the NDTC is jointly owned by the government and De Beers.
Increased rough diamond supply is expected to allow local diamond cutting and polishing factories to operate at full capacity.
“We are happy about what has been said about supply to local factories,” he said.
Seber said although De Beers has international policies, Namibia as a diamond producer must have policies that support the local factories and make them competitive.
The new agreement also see a significant increase in rough diamonds made available for polishing and cutting to the value of US$430 million (approximatelyN$ 6,73 billion) annually.
De Beers chief executive officer, Philippe Mellier said the agreement is aimed at positively impacting the lives of Namibians.
“We are very proud to be partners with one of the most politically stable and most aspiring nations on the African continent,” Mellier said.
Government has also established a 100% wholly-owned Namibian company called Namib Desert Diamonds (Namdia), which will distribute up to 15% of Namdeb Holdings’ total production.
It will serve as a diamond sales and marketing company that will be used as a window on the market to find out what the international market is willing to pay for the country’s rough diamonds, according to minister of mines and energy, Obeth Kandjoze.
The 10-year agreement for the sorting, valuing and sales of Namdeb’s diamonds is the longest-ever signed by the two partners