Wednesday, February 29, 2012

GIA - DCLA grading same stone. Picture of Stone.

GIA F Vs2 - DCLA G I1 Table view 10x magnification, (Visible inclusion to the naked eye)

As viewed from the girdle at 10x magnification through main bottom facet (pavilion)

GIA Certificate Number # 16885382 1.30 ct

DCLA Certificate Number # 171612 1.30 ct

Budding diamond mine in surprise closure

The future of about 160 workers at BK11 diamond mine in the Boteti sub-district hangs in the balance after UK-based proprietor, Firestone Diamonds, suspended operations yesterday.

BK11, which is located near Debswana's Orapa and Letlhakane mines, began production in late 2010, selling diamonds worth 800,000 British pounds (P9.2 million at current rates) last year.

Announcing the suspension, Firestone CEO, Tim Wilkes, said the move was necessitated by a combination of operational challenges and weak market demand for the precious stones.

"We remain committed to the operations in Botswana and the programme at BK11 is a temporary measure that has been designed to enable a rapid re-start of operations when the technical and market challenges have been resolved," he said.

In the meantime, Firestone Diamonds will focus its energies on its flagship Lesotho mine that contributed 2.2 million pounds (P25.3 million at current rates) in revenue last year. Unionists say the suspension means retrenchments of an estimated 160 workers at the mine who, combined with sub-contractors, total 200.

The latest move has been met with shock by the Botswana Mine Workers Union (BMWU), which at the time of the suspension was working on, incorporating BK11 employees into the Union.

Union officials said BMWU had been due to sign a recognition agreement with the mine's management on February 15, but it was instead informed that operations would be suspended and workers retrenched.

"They (management) said workers would be retrenched and only those required for care and maintenance would be kept," BMWU national organising coordinator, Abel Buka told Mmegi.

"I was at the mine yesterday and the general manager told me they were awaiting final letters from head office which will say who's going and who's staying.

"The suspension was a shock to us because they never indicated that they were facing any problems when we were in discussions on the agreement."

According to Buka, the suspension of operations curiously coincided with the planned signing of the recognition agreement, which had been under negotiation for months before the latest move.

"We asked how the suspension just came on the day of the agreement and they replied that the recession was to blame and that the move was an order from the head office," he said. "As a result, the move meant that we could not sign the agreement because the people who wanted to join were likely to be retrenched."

Buka said the union has sought the intervention of the departments of mines and labour because its own efforts to assist workers will be limited by the non-existence of an agreement.

"We are still trying to find a way to at least convene a meeting with the company and the two departments where we can put our views to management on how they can avert retrenchments," said Buka. "We went through similar situations during the previous recession and we have ideas that could help the mine on how to avoid retrenchments."

In a previous announcement, Firestone Diamonds said BK11 was plagued by technical challenges that were limiting the recovery of diamonds. At the time, the UK miner said management was considering a number of strategic options on the way forward.

In December, Firestone noted that diamond prices had fallen approximately 30 percent from their highs in July 2011, but expressed confidence that these would improve in 2012.

Other leading producers, including De Beers, expect prices to remain flat this year.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Golconda diamond up for auction

Beau Sancy, an important diamond from the world-renowned Golconda mines, will come under the gavel at Sotheby's auction, Magnificent Jewels and Noble Jewels, in Geneva on May 15. It was worn by Marie de Medici in her crown at her coronation as the Queen Consort of the French king Henri IV in 1610. Weighing 34.98 carats, it is expected to fetch $ 2 million to $ 4 million (approx. Rs 9.80 crore to Rs 19.60 crore).

The modified pear double rose cut diamond, named after the Lord of Sancy Nicolas de Harlay (1546-1629) who first acquired it in Constantinople sometime in mid-1500s, has been passed down through the royal families of France, England, Prussia and the House of Orange-Nassau of the Netherlands. Sharing the details about the historic diamond, Maithili Parekh, Director, Sotheby's India, said, "The Beau Sancy is one of the most fascinating and romantic gems ever to appear at an auction. It is most likely to have originated from the mines near the city of Golconda (modern day Hyderabad), the source of history's best known diamonds like the Hope, the Koh-i-Noor and the Regent."

Parekh adds that the Beau Sancy was bought for 75,000 livres by Henri IV and gifted to his wife. "The queen of France had long desired the stone, particularly after learning that Lord of Sancy had sold a larger stone, today known as the Sancy, to King James I of England. In a testament to the importance the queen placed on the diamond, the Beau Sancy was mounted atop the crown that she wore at her coronation in 1610," informs Parekh.The Beau Sancy will be showcased in Hong Kong, New York, Rome, Paris, London, Zurich and Geneva before the auction.


It flew profitably through 23 years of United Nations-imposed sanctions. It carried on without a blip after black nationalist guerillas shot down two of its Viscounts in the late 1970s, the last years of white-ruled Rhodesia.

After independence in 1980, its name was changed from Air Rhodesia to Air Zimbabwe. It was comfortably in the black with 16 aircraft, and a reputation as a clever, durable little African airline. It has taken President Mugabe 31 years without war or economic sanctions to finally drive it into the ground.

The last Air Zimbabwe domestic flight was three weeks ago. Late last year it cancelled international flights after a Boeing 737 at Johannesburg’s Oliver Tambo Airport and a Boeing 767 at Gatwick were impounded for unpaid services.

On Friday last week lawyers for the National Airways Workers’ Union and the Air Transport Union filed for the airline to be placed under judicial management. Court papers said they had not been paid since January 2009 and were owed US$ 35 million. Air Zimbabwe executives who asked not to be named said the company owed a total of US$160 million.

Among the many reluctant benefactors who bailed it out in emergencies is Nicholas van Hoogstraaten, the former London rack-renter who has recreated himself as one of Zimbabwe’s most influential businessmen. “The demise of Air Zimbabwe is a disgraceful waste of a valuable asset, which is now beyond redemption,” he said.

The “disgrace” he refers to is the blundering mismanagement and greed Mr Mugabe and his cronies have visited upon every enterprise they have touched since he came to power in 1980.

From the outset, Mr Mugabe used Air Zimbabwe as his personal air taxi. The abuse was legendary. Passengers were ordered off their flights when he turned up at 30 minutes notice with a crowd of hangers-on. Or if they managed to keep their seats, they would be flown to wildly out-of-the way destinations to drop off the president. On one trip, he circumnavigated the globe.

Political appointments fill the senior executive positions, and relatives much of the rest. Air Zimbabwe has a staff of 1,400 where experts estimate 400 would be ample. Fares were kept unsustainably low, and charged in worthless Zimbabwe dollars until they were phased out in 2009.

It has no board of directors. The company is in the hands of a coterie of executives who, staff say, pay themselves US$20,000 a month and drive the latest Mercedes Benz models. “They are law unto themselves,” said one. Early this month a long-unpaid pilot won a court order for the seizure of company property in lieu of his salary. The sheriff entered Air Zimbabwe headquarters and left with three of the limousines.

“It’s become the ZANU(PF) (Mr Mugabe’s party) carrier,” said a senior technician. Each time the Mugabe “royal family” return from a trip abroad, a 10-tonne truck and several pick-ups can be seen to drive up to the aircraft’s hold to be loaded with the Mugabe’s goods. Last year, Grace, the president’s wife, flew into a rage when her flight was late. Acting CEO Peter Chikumba presented her with US$10,000 “spending money” by way of an apology.

Since the government took control of the fabulously wealthy Marange diamond fields in the east of country, cabin staff say, pilots are regularly given small sealed parcels by Mrs Mugabe’s staff for personal delivery to Asian businessmen in the Far East. Just ahead of elections in 2008, an Air Zimbabwe plane flew tonnes of ZANU(PF) T-shirts from Beijing.

But as Air Zimbabwe (Pvt) Ltd crumbles, a new development is secretly unfolding. A plain white 150-seat Airbus A320 with French markings arrived at Harare airport 10 days ago and was quickly concealed in an Air Zimbabwe hangar. Company and transport ministry officials have been tight-lipped.

The plane is on loan from Sonangol, a Chinese company with enormous interests ranging through oil, air transport and diamonds, Air Zimbabwe administrators say. A larger Airbus 340 is soon to follow.

“It’s a Ministry of Defence project,” said one. “It can only be funded by diamonds. ZANU(PF) will not be without their own airline.”