DE Beers is in discussions with the Botswana government to move diamond sales from its capital, Gaborone, nearer to buyers in international centres in order to get rough diamond trade flowing again, said Reuters.
Citing De Beers executive vice president of Diamond Trading, Paul Rowley, the newswire said the temporary shift in sales point would be done in such a way that the sales were still booked in Botswana. “If we can move our product closer to them it would give us the flexibility to restart sales as soon as the markets reopen,” said Rowley.
“The temporary measure will enable us and our government partners to generate some revenue in this difficult period,” said Rowley. Anglo American unit De Beers sells 90% of its total supply from Gaborone whose economy relies on diamonds, said Reuters.
But since the COVID-19 pandemic, diamond buyers from traditional centres, such as Antwerp and Mumbai, have been unable to travel to Botswana, which they previously visited ten times a year to view and buy diamonds, it said.
Movement restrictions and weaker demand forced De Beers to cancel its diamond sales, known as sights, in April and May after the February sale declined by 36% to $551m.
The COVID-19 outbreak has come at a bad 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.