De Beers happy with diamond sales agreement

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WINDHOEK

De Beers’ group chief executive officer Philipe Mellier says De Beer is satisfied with the terms of diamond sales and marketing agreement currently under negotiations with the Namibian government.
“We are happy, we are all smiling and negotiating together and I do not want to add more than what the president was saying. We will invite you when we are going to sign the agreement,”
Mellier told journalist after meeting with President Hage Geingob at State House yesterday.

The visit follow Namibian Cabinet’s Monday announcement that it has approved new terms of reference for diamond sales and marketing agreement, which once signed, would see an increase in the supply of rough diamonds to the local cutting and polishing industry.

“I came to introduce myself. We are 50/50 partners with the Government of Namibia. It is well known that we are negotiating the new sales agreement,” Mellier said of his visit to State House, which he said was to brief the Namibia Head of State on the development in the diamond industry.

The Ministry of Economic Planning, in its submission of new terms of agreement to Cabinet, says “all the terms of reference given to the negotiating team were met,” and asked “that Cabinet approve of the new terms [of the sales and marketing agreement] agreed between the government negotiating team and De Beers Société Anonyme.”
The terms are of “a significant increase in local supply for rough diamonds to the cutting and polishing industry” that is to be negotiated between 25 percent and 30 percent. The terms also include “a window on the market to enable government to buy a meaningful portion of Namdeb Holdings’ rough diamonds and sell them through alternative channels.”

The new terms for diamond sales and marketing agreement would increase the supply of rough diamonds to the local diamond cutting and polishing industry. Currently the industry is supplied with 10 percent of the value of local rough diamond through the Namibia Diamond Trading Company (NDTC), which has previously said the amount is not sufficient to sustain the local diamond cutting and polishing industry. The rest of the Namibian-mined rough diamonds are channelled to Botswana where De Beers has set up its international sorting, distribution and sales centre, in partnership with the Botswana government.

However, the local diamond industry was on Monday still waiting for a formal update announcement on the sales and marketing agreement, which it said has been long overdue.

The new terms ask to ensure that the entire range of special stones be made available for sale and manufacturing in Namibia without any limitation.

Further, the new agreement also speaks of “protecting Namdeb by reducing or eliminating disproportional risks in the agreement, such as the ‘delivery entitlement’ clause in the agreement.”

Mellier says currently the diamond market is not performing well since the slump experienced in November last year but De Beers is optimistic that the diamond market would soon recover. He also informed the Head of State that mining operations from the seabed is progressing well, recovering between 1.2 million and 1.3 million of carats per year.

Accompanying Mellier were De Beers Resident Director, Daniel Kali and De Beers Director for Strategic and Corporate Affairs, Bruce Cleaver.

Minister of Information and Communication Technology, Tjekero Tweya on Monday also announced that Cabinet has approved the transfer of government’s 8 percent shares in Sakawe Mining Corporation (Samicor), as well as the 5,1 percent shareholding in Weatherly Mining Namibia, to the state-owned Epangelo Mining Company.

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