Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Diamond exports soared 82 percent in May

Botswana has exported P12 billion ($1.8 billion) worth of rough and polished diamonds in the first five months of the year, according to statistics released by the Bank of Botswana (BoB).

The central bank's Financial Statistics Report for May 2011 indicates that Botswana exported US$464.1 million (P2.96 billion) worth of rough and polished diamonds during the month. The exports were 82 percent higher than the US$255.1 million (P1.6 bn) exported in the same month last year and 123.4 percent higher than April 2011's exports valued at US$207.7 million (P1.3 bn).

The bank's figures are sourced from the Central Statistics Office (CSO), the Diamond Trading Company Botswana (DTCB), and two of the 16 diamond manufacturers operating in the country. This year's diamond export revenues are likely to surpass last year's as both production and prices have been on the upswing after recovering from the 2009 freefall.

Botswana exported P20.81 billion in diamonds last year, representing an all-time high in Pula terms and signifying the industry's strong rebound from a collapse lasting approximately 15 months. In US dollar terms, Botswana exported US$3.01 billion (P19.2 bn) in diamonds for 2010.

At P20.79 billion, exports in 2008 come closest to last year's performance, with previous Pula term values ranging from P17 billion in 2005 to P20.48 billion in 2007. But in US dollar terms, last year's exports are overtaken by annual figures between 2005 and 2008, with 2006 being the highest at US$3.41 billion (P21.78 bn).

Rough diamond exports comprise mainly stock produced by Debswana, while, since last November, exports from Firestone's first independent tender in the country have also contributed to the total.After having produced 23 million carats in 2010, Debswana Diamond Company plans to cap production at around 30 million next year up from 27 million carats in 2011.

Debswana, which is jointly owned by De Beers and the Botswana government, reached peak production in 2006 at 34 million carats before producing 33 million carats in 2007 and 32 million carats in 2008 before cutting output to 17.7 million carats in 2009 due to the global economic downturn. Firestone, on the other hand, has held two tenders, which have received significant interest among international buyers.

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