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De Beers Offering Sight Goods Outside Botswana

Miner will introduce provision at June sale amid travel restrictions.
Jun 2, 2020 6:00 AM   By Joshua Freedman
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 De Beers will hold viewings of sight goods in locations other than Botswana, enabling customers to access the company’s rough amid travel restrictions.

The miner will introduce the provision in “relevant diamond centers” for the upcoming sight scheduled for June 15 to 19, a De Beers spokesperson told Rapaport News Monday. He would not say which cities would host the viewings.

Botswana placed limitations on incoming travel in March due to the coronavirus, making it impossible for De Beers’ customers to attend sales, which take place 10 times a year in Gaborone. With the restrictions ravaging the country’s diamond sales, the government gave De Beers permission to sell outside the country, enabling Botswana and the company to generate revenue where demand exists.

“A lot of international customers don’t have the ability to view boxes at all, so the idea is to get goods shipped out of Botswana so they can be viewable in other locations,” the spokesperson said. Aggregation of goods, invoicing and account management will still take place in Botswana, he said.

De Beers moved its sightholder-sales operations to Gaborone from London in 2013 as part of a decade-long deal with the government that expires this year. The economy is highly dependent on diamond mining and trading: The industry is the largest single contributor to government revenues, according to the World Bank Group. Last week, Moody’s downgraded its outlook for Botswana’s credit rating to “negative” from “stable,” citing the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the diamond sector.

De Beers’ updated sales policy could continue at later sights if the circumstances require, the miner said. However, the company is focusing on returning to normal operations in Botswana.

“We’ve been in discussion with the Botswana government, and they’re pretty happy with the approach,” the spokesperson continued. “They recognize there are challenges in relation to the restrictions that have been necessary in response to the public-health issues. Botswana is very much our home for sightholder sales, and it will continue to be in future as soon as we can do business as normal there.”

While movement of people remains difficult, cargo shipments have eased in recent weeks as the aviation industry has gradually returned. Demand remains sluggish, though, with Indian trade organizations calling on members to avoid importing rough for the entire month of June.

Image: An employee at De Beers’ Global Sightholder Sales operation in Gaborone, Botswana. (Ben Perry/Armoury Films/De Beers)
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Tags: Botswana, Coronavirus, COVID-19, De Beers, Joshua Freedman, Rapaport News, rough, Rough Diamonds, rough sales, Sightholders, Sights
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