Botswana seeking quick separation from Anglo

Botswana President, Masisi Mokgweetsi

BOTSWANA president Mokgweetsi Masisi wanted a quick separation from Anglo American in terms of the UK group’s plans to sell its 85% stake in the diamond miner.

Botswana has a 15% stake in De Beers through a joint venture held with Anglo American which earlier this month outlined plans to sell its long-held diamond investment.

The restructuring came amid a takeover proposal from BHP. The Australian miner eventually backed out of making a firm offer to buy Anglo, but it’s possible it might return in as little as six months with a hostile offer. Takeover offers from third parties could not be ruled out either.

“One thing we don’t want is a hostile owner,” Masisi was quoted by Reuters as saying. “We are watching this very closely because whoever buys Anglo, if it is sold, will then be the owner of De Beers and De Beers is our strategic partner with whom we are at the tail end of our negotiations,” he said.

Reuters reported Masisi as saying he would meet Anglo and De Beers executives at jewellery industry trade event the JCK Show in the US this week.

“We have received some assurances and the reason for travelling is to go and get that first hand from the principals of Anglo and De Beers that they are committed to separating De Beers from Anglo before Anglo is sold, if it is sold,” Masisi said.

According to industry watchdog Kimberley Process Certification Scheme data, Botswana produced 20% of the world’s total rough diamonds in 2022, behind Russia. The southern African country is, however, the world’s top diamond producer by value.

Botswana is poised to launch a $6bn project to extend the life of its flagship Jwaneng diamond mine. Ahead of its announcement, Masisi voiced his concerns about the threat posed by laboratory made or synthetic diamonds to natural diamonds.

“If lab grown diamonds take our space, then you and I are finished,” Masisi told reporters.