Namibia, De Beers’ NDTC Says Local Cutters Want Bigger Share

Namibia Diamond Trading Co., a joint venture between the nation and Anglo American Plc’s De Beers unit, said local gem cutters and polishers want to be allowed to process more of the stones produced in the country.

NDTC sorts and values all the gems from Namdeb Diamond Corp., Namibia and De Beers’ mining joint venture, selling 90 percent of them to De Beers’ Diamond Trading Co., and the rest to 12 local cutters and polishers.

The local clients are “very eager and want to do much more,” Chief Executive Officer Shihaleni Ndjaba said by phone yesterday from the capital, Windhoek. “We wish we could be allowed to sell from Namdeb and other sources as well.”

Namibia, the world’s largest producer of marine diamonds, is renegotiating its gem-marketing agreement with De Beers, which expired in December, and may sell some of the stones separately from De Beers, Mines and Energy Minister Isak Katali said last month. NDTC’s operations are separate to this accord.

“We want to grow the industry and if they get additional quantities, they will not say we don’t have capacity,” Ndjaba said. “What they are processing now is not the end of their capacity.” Contracts of the 12 clients, known as sight holders, come to an end next March and NDTC is “working on finer details of the selection criterion” for either new customers or the renewal of existing contracts, he said.

Output Increase

Namdeb’s production rose 6 percent to 1.76 million carats in 2013, with two-thirds of that coming from marine mining operations. De Beers, the world’s biggest producer of the stones, sells them to sight holders, which until now have been chosen for their financial standing, business reputation and marketing ability. The Anglo American unit put greater emphasis on buyers’ track records in making purchases at previous sales events, known as sights.

Botswana, the world’s biggest gem producer, started selling 13 percent of its stones through its Okavango Diamond Co. in December after De Beers agreed to a new 10-year marketing accord.

Namibia’s marine diamonds sell for $450 to $700 per carat, at least triple the price of gems from neighboring Botswana and as much as 14 times those from Zimbabwe, Kennedy Hamutenya, the country’s diamonds commissioner, said in March.

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