Despite doubts that Botswana was less developed to handle De Beers’ sightholder sales, the latter have since expressed amazement at the state of art facility at the De Beers Global Sight Holder Site (DBGSS) in Botswana.
BG Business spoke to David Johnson, De Beers Midstream Communications Manager, who said that De Beers is very pleased with how the first international Sight in Botswana is going. “Sight-holders have stated that they are very impressed with our new $35 million (around P311 million) facility here and there is a real buzz on the sales floor with excitement at this new era in Botswana,” Johnson said adding that overall the progress of the first Sight has been very positive for all parties concerned.
“We have been delighted with how things have gone and it is testament to the outstanding efforts of Government, Sight holders and De Beers that this has run so successfully,” he said. The Sight is currently ongoing here in Botswana. According to Johnson a sight sale is basically a sales week that happens ten times each year, so the current sight sale will be completed at the end of this week.
“Overall by the end of the week we are expecting over 200 Sight-holder representatives to have come to Gaborone for the Sight,” he said. BG Business however learnt from outgoing Executive Vice President Varda Shine that De Beers has a total of 121 sigh-holders globally in Canada, USA, United Kingdom, Belgium, Switzerland, Japan, Russia, Israel, India, Hong-Kong, Namibia, South Africa and here in Botswana. Johnson would not share with BG Business as to how much volume has been sold so far in carats. “We only communicate our sales figures annually as part of our annual financial results.
However, to give you a sense of the size of a normal sight, on average De Beers Sight holder Sales sells US$5 billion (P44.5 billion) – US$6 billion (P53.4 billion) each year so, with ten Sights each year, the average Sight is between US$500 million (P4.4 billion) and US$600 million (P5.3 billion).” Quizzed on the challenges De Beers encountered in their first sight sale Johnson said they have been running a very detailed project to relocate De Beers International Sight holder sales from London to Botswana over the last two years and this has allowed them to have a seamless transition into Botswana.
“We believe that the facilities we can offer our Sight holders here are first class and the feedback from Sight holders has been very positive,” he stressed. He believes that the exciting development will strengthen the outstanding partnership between De Beers and the Government of Botswana and that it will also see Botswana grow to a leading international diamond centre now that it is home to the world’s leading diamond sorting, valuing and sales facility, as well as home to De Beers’ major rough diamond sales outlet. Currently, Botswana according to Paul Rowley who succeeds Shine, comes fifth in the world Global Diamond Cutting and Polishing overview.
With 30 sight holders, India tops the world in diamond cutting and polishing with 76 percent value and 92 percent volume of the world’s diamonds cut and polished in India. China comes second with 8 percent value and 4 percent volume of diamonds being cut and polished there while Israel and South Africa cuts and polishes 3 percent and 1 percent value and volume of the world diamonds respectively.
Being the world’s largest diamond producer by value, Botswana comes fifth, cutting and polishing only 2 percent and 1 percent value and volume of the world’s diamond production. USA and Namibia cuts and polishes only 1 percent of the diamond value and volume globally.