Windhoek-Reflecting on the current status of the downstream diamond beneficiation industry and opportunities provided by the new sales and marketing agreement signed with De Beers in May 2016 to further build on the value addition successes achieved over the last decade, the Namibia Diamond Trading Company (NDTC) says it understands and appreciates the government’s position as shared by the Minister of Mines and Energy, Obeth Kandjoze, at the consultative meeting with the industry on Monday.
During the meeting Kandjoze noted, with grave concern, the amount of rough diamonds exported, which in some cases totalled 100 percent of rough stones meant for local value addition.
“The ministry’s position is crucial in the context of NDTC’s mandate of supporting and facilitating beneficiation. The minister has clearly articulated the government’s expectations and aspirations from a beneficiation standpoint and we are happy to state that this position is fully aligned to the NDTC’s rough diamond distribution strategy of allocating a greater share of our rough diamonds to those sight holders that maximise the cutting and polishing of their purchases from NDTC in country,” said NDTC CEO Shihaleni Ndjaba.
Ndjaba noted that the partnership between NDTC and the current 11 sight holders in the country, which he said is fully supported by NDTC shareholders, namely the government and De Beers, has been successful in creating a remarkably resilient local downstream beneficiation industry.
“Since the advent of beneficiation sales in 2007, NDTC has sold close to N$26 billion worth of rough diamonds to be cut and polished in Namibia. This has enabled NDTC sight holders to not only directly employ close to 1 000 polishers but has also resulted in significant investment in infrastructure and technology in the Namibian cutting and polishing industry, which in turn has improved the industry’s competitiveness.”
“It is also important to state that NDTC commends the pragmatic and collaborative approach taken by the ministry in exploring various avenues to finding lasting solutions to the challenges currently faced by the industry. We strongly believe that consultation with all the relevant stakeholders remains the best way to create a conducive, enabling environment for sustainable diamond beneficiation in Namibia,” Ndjaba added.
During Monday’s meeting with local diamond cutting and polishers, Kandjoze noted that the government, as a shareholder in NDTC, could no longer stand by and support a rough distribution strategy that does not take into consideration the level of rough diamond exports in 2016 and the negative impact that it has on the country’s diamond beneficiation aspirations.
“I can confirm that the approach taken by NDTC has, in the same way that it has reduced the allocations of those sight holders that have exported a large proportion of their purchases, resulted in an increase in the allocation of those sight holders that have processed more of their rough purchases in Namibia. Testament to the fact that the allocation methodology and process fully supports the government’s objective of seeing more of NDTC beneficiation sales going to those sight holders that process a larger proportion of the purchases in Namibia. What we are effectively saying is that just purchasing rough from NDTC is no longer sufficient and we demand to see the increased rough diamond supply levels from NDTC translating into increased beneficiation activity on the ground,” said Kandjoze.
“We understand and appreciate that downstream beneficiation can only be successful on the back of a successful tripartite partnership between the government, NDTC and the cutting and polishing industry. Further to this, there is appreciation from the ministry’s part that the government needs to play an active role in helping to create a conducive environment that will support sustainable growth of downstream beneficiation,” said Kandjoze.