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IDMA Addresses Beneficiation in Botswana
Apr 6, 2011 7:00 PM   By Rapaport News
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According to organizers of the IDMA presidents' meeting in Gaborone, Botswana, the meeting kicked-off  with a diamond manufacturing debate amongst Botswana stakeholders on sustainability in local diamond industry.

For first time an IDMA presidents' meeting was held in Botswana, the largest diamond producing country in the world. Opening of the meeting was preceded by the "Diamond Beneficiation Pitso," where high ranking government officials, diamond  miners and manufacturers, as well as industry analysts and academics all discussed and presented their ideas how to build sustainable beneficiation of diamonds in Botswana. 
In his opening address, IDMA president Moti Ganz said the reason for IDMA to opt for hosting the session in Gaborone  was that Botswana is expected to become an important destination of choice for industry players, from mine to market, as the country is taking steps to develop a profitable value chain and with it a long term sustainable diamond economy that will take the country and all the industry's participants forward.
"We're gathering in Botswana because we believe a competitive diamond industry and trade can be developed here in the future. The Pitso offered our organization's members a first opportunity for an exchange of views and I believe this event has been a true eye opener for many of our peers," Ganz noted.   
The IDMA meeting was hosted jointly by the Botswana Diamond Manufacturers Association (BDMA) and the Botswana government. BDMA president Mervin Lifshitz said that the idea to hold the Pitso meeting had been suggested by Dr. P.H.K. Kedikilwe, Minister of Minerals Energy and Water Resources, who is now also acting Vice President of Botswana.
In a meeting held several months ago,  Kedikilwe told Lifshitz and Jacob Tamanage that he would like the BDMA to organize another town hall meeting, following a succesful event in 2009. From this the concept of a Pitso was developed. A Pitso is the Botswana word for an informal village, or town hall, meeting, which usually ends up with decisions or policy recommendations.
The Pitso was co-moderated by Letsema Mbayi, a doctoral student from Botswana who is writing her Phd. thesis on beneficiation in London, and Chaim Even Zohar, an industry analyst, commentator and conference facilitator.
Among the speakers featured were  Kedikilwe;  Even Zohar; Keith Jefferis , a Botswana-based industry consultant; Varda Shine, managing director of the Diamond Trading Company; Letsema Mbayi;  Lifschitz; Victor van der Kwast, head of the International Diamond and Jewellery Group of ABN Amro; Roman Grynberg, senior research fellow at the Botswana Institute for Development Policy Analysis (BIDPA); Arik Sela, head of the international diamond brokering firm I. Hennig, which co-sponsored the Pitso, and Jacob A.R. Thamage, coordinator of the Diamond Hub of the Botswana Ministry of Minerals, Energy and Water Resources.
Most speakers recognized that the 16 diamond factories in the country, which employ some 3,000 direct production workers, have developed solely on the basis of rough diamond availability rather than for its international competitiveness. The IDMA meeting in Botswana is expected to deepen the Batswana people and government understanding of the complexities and challenges of diamond manufacturing and the need for factories to operate within internationally, vertically organized value chains.
In other news from the meeting, IDMA members voted unanimously for IDMA to apply for membership of the Responsible Jewelry Council (RJC). 
"RJC's principles and objectives are in line with IDMA's Code of Conduct," said IDMA secretary general Ronnie VanderLinden. "Therefore, as we recognize and support the activities of the RJC, we want to be part of RJC's ongoing efforts."
At the meeting, the IDMA board also presented the newly created IDMA logo. In addition, members were given a demonstration of new IDMA website, which was completed recently and was launched to coincide with the presidents' meeting.
VanderLinden said that with the launch of the new IDMA website, IDMA now has a powerful tool to communicate with members, and the diamond business community at large.
"The site's home page has a number of elements, all of which will be updated regularly to reflect IDMA's activities as well as relevant developments in the global diamond industry. We invite our members to take a close look at the various sections on the web site and offer their comments and suggestions to improve this website to keep it current, fresh and highly relevant," he added.

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