October 8, 2010

Diamond sale rising

Namibia sold nearly N$3 billion worth of diamonds during the first eight months of 2010, about 22 per cent more than the same time in 2009. Releasing the latest diamond figures, Bank Windhoek economist John Steytler said close to 1,1 million carats were mined from January to August this year, an increase of about 96 per cent over the 552.000 produced during the corresponding period in 2009.

The latest statistics come as De Beers announced plans to abandon marine mining in South Africa to concentrate on mining diamonds off the Namibia coast. Barend Petersen, Chief Executive of De Beers SA, said that the group had consolidated all its marine diamond operations in Namibian waters, abandoning an effort off South Africa after obtaining low grade gems there. De Beers has long used vessels to scoop up gems from the sea floor off Namibia and in 2006 launched a project worth nearly R1 billion to outfit another vessel and use the same techniques off the South African coast.

In Namibia, production from marine mining has overtaken output from increasingly lower-grade land mines. Namdeb Managing Director Inge Zaamwani-Kamwi earlier this year said negotiations between Government and De Beers to restructure De Beers Marine Namibia (DBMN) were in an advance stage. The new structure would give Government more than 50 per cent shares in DBMN. Indirectly, Government currently owns 30 per cent in DBMN through Namdeb, while De Beers owns the rest.

Petersen said that the diamond market was recovering after its setback during the global downturn. "Generally, the market is starting to improve. Of course, our biggest sales are in the US, but China and India are becoming important [markets]," he said. De Beers controls around 40 per cent of the rough diamond market worldwide. (The Namibian)

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