Dear Mr Mckay
An article by yourself which I have read on www.miningmx.com has just been brought to my attention. I also gather that it has been published in hard copy.
My company, WWW, markets all of the Letseng diamond production, and it is relation to the impact of your story on my company that I am writing.
WWW has been selling the diamonds from Letseng since it was put back into production. All the diamonds sold by ourselves on behalf of Letseng are sold at tenders held in Antwerp. This year we are about to hold our tenth tender. There has been considerable publicity about the success the mine has achieved in attaining very high prices for its exceptional production.
For you to claim that Letseng, and therefore by implication ourselves as being complicit, is being used to “wash smuggled diamonds’ is extraordinarily damaging to the reputation and business of our company.
By way of background, I have over 30 years experience in the diamond industry and within our group we have well in excess of 125 years. Apart from acting as the selling agents for Letseng, inter alia, we are also the Government Valuators for the Canadian Federal Government. Personally, as are two of my colleagues, I am an official diamond expert to the British Government for the Kimberley Process.
Twenty of my thirty years experience was with De Beers. In the early 80’s when Letseng was in production for De Beers, I was responsible for putting the prices on special stones ( stones larger than 10.9 carats) for sale. Letseng was closed by De Beers in 1982, and the company trashed the mine’s infrastructure on its departure. The rebirth of Letseng has self evidently been a major event in Lesotho.
Several companies are currently bidding for Letseng – ironically, including De Beers. All the bidders have naturally been provided with sales and production data to confirm the value of the mine’s production. It is particularly significant that De Beers are able to compare this data with their historical data to confirm that the value of the production has not been fraudulently inflated.
Specifically in your article you say that “the stream of diamonds flowing from Letseng has surprised those who have access to such information. Diamantaires, of Antwerp, an important Belgian diamond trading station, won’t accept parcels of unpolished diamonds from Letseng, which they deem atypical. The recent run of mine has been quite different.’
There is absolutely no basis to these comments which, like the allegations before them, are reckless and defamatory. I can categorically deny that Letseng’s production has “recently’ been “atypical’ and any invitees to our tenders have refused to attend or purchase for the reasons you suggest.
I am astonished that you did not take the trouble to contact me or anyone else from the mine. Through my involvement in PolishedPrices.com I am especially aware that it is normal for corroboration to be sought from the company against whom such damaging and potentially specious accusations are made.
Given the seriousness of your accusations, I would advise you to contact me today to discuss the wording of a suitable retraction
If I have not heard from you by the end of today, I shall copy this letter to the relevant executives of Naspers and instruct our Johannesburg lawyers to launch litigation against you, Miningmx and Naspers.
WWW International Diamond Consultants Ltd
46 Kenilworth Avenue, London SW19 7LW, England
Tel: +44 7774 671 545
Email: [email protected]