diamonds De Beers on Tuesday began rough stone sorting in Botswana, a first step in its transfer from London to Gaborone.Rough stone sorting or aggregation operations have been based in London for nearly 80 years.
Beers chief executive officer Philippe Mellier told reporters here it
was the first step in a process that should be complete by the end of
Mellier said the move would transform Botswana into a
leading international centre, with about $6 billion worth of diamonds
expected to flow through the country.
He added that the diamond
market remained challenging in the short term, but was nonetheless an
exciting time for Botswana to build on its rightful position as a
leading diamond producing country.
Botswana and De Beers in
September 2011 signed a 10-year deal to move its rough stone sorting and
trading division from London to Gaborone.
Since it started mining
diamonds in the early 1970s, Debswana -- a company equally owned by
Botswana's government and De Beers -- has been selling its diamonds
exclusively to De Beers, who in turn shipped the diamonds to London for
sale to customers.
Under the deal, Botswana will for the first
time directly sell 10 percent of gem stones manufactured locally while
De Beers will also increase the value of diamonds it makes available to
manufacturing companies in the country to $800 million a year from the
current $550 million.
Minerals minister, Ponatshego Kedikilwe said
at the time it has long been the aim of the government to have diamonds
from Botswana processed, sorted, marketed and sold in Botswana.
De Beers is a global leader in the exploration, mining and marketing of diamonds.
Rhodes, the colonial-era politician and mining tycoon, founded De Beers
in 1888. His fortune financed his imperial adventures for Britain,
founding the state of Rhodesia which later became modern Zambia and