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South Africa Told Its Lagging Diamond Industry Needs a Boost

Oct 29, 2015 4:08 AM   By Rapaport News
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RAPAPORT... South Africa needs to boost its lagging diamond industry to re-establish the industry’s former glory, two keynote speakers said at the nation’s first Diamond Indaba in Johannesburg.

Ernie Blom, president of the World Federation of Diamond Bourses, lamented the state of the South African diamond business and called on delegates at the conference to “work together as partners or we will all perish together as failures.”

“Unfortunately, we are faced today with a great irony that the once mighty South Africa diamond industry is something of a lame duck,” Blom said in his Indaba speech that was posted online by Mining Weekly October 28.

The event was also a forum for the launch of the South African Young Diamond Beneficiators' Guild, which aims to help startups led mainly by black entrepreneurs to cut and polish diamonds, Reuters said in a separate report October 27

“Although the concept of beneficiation of African rough diamonds [the push to grow the cutting and polishing sector among previously disadvantaged South Africans] was started in this country in the early 1930s, we find ourselves struggling to find an economic model that can justify diamond cutting and polishing at home,” Blom pointed out. “We must find ways of rejuvenating the business.”

Even though South Africa is the world’s fifth-largest diamond producer and home to some of the diamond mining industry’s most iconic names, the number of workers employed in the sector in South Africa had fallen from a peak of 4,500 to 200 today, Blom said.

“We have a number of producer countries such as Namibia, Botswana, Angola, Zimbabwe, and Tanzania within close proximity with similar aspirations regard beneficiation,” Barend Petersen, the executive chairperson at De Beers Consolidated Mines, told delegates at the Indaba, an African term for a conference, in a speech posted by Mining Weekly.

“We need to consider the benefits that we can derive as a region and individual countries if we collaborate to establish SADC as a diamond beneficiation hub," he added.
Tags: Rapaport News, South Africa
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