DE BEERS intended to press ahead with its next round of diamond sales planned for March 30 despite buyers being prevented from inspecting the goods in person, said Bloomberg News.
Botswana has imposed a travel ban on foreigners from certain countries as a measure intended to limit the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
This means that some of De Beers’ customers from places such as China and India – which have been included in the travel ban – will be prevented from inspecting diamonds held for sale. De Beers conducts ten such ‘sights’ a year in its Gaborone offices, Botswana, of which the March event is the third in the firm’s 2020 financial year.
Citing a De Beers statement, Bloomberg News said: “Our intention remains to hold the sight, in line with the desire for it go ahead expressed by customers, but we are developing a suite of contingency plans in the event that it is not possible to hold the sight in the usual manner”.
These plans could include having local representatives of buyers attend the sight or by holding a “blind sight” in which buyers don’t see the goods they are buying, said the newswire.
De Beers is set to hold an emergency meeting with the government next week, the Botswana Guardian newspaper reported, citing Minerals Minister Lefoko Moagi.
The COVID-19 outbreak has come at a terrible time for the diamond industry following poor trading conditions in 2019. De Beers made its smallest profit in more than a decade last year after a glut of rough and polished stones destroyed margins for the industry’s crucial middlemen who cut, polish and trade them, said Bloomberg News.