Gaborone: De Beers, the Government of South Africa and the country’s diamond cutting industry yesterday jointly launched The Enterprise Development Project for Diamond Beneficiators in Johannesburg. The launch was attended by the Deputy Minister of Mineral Resources, Godfrey Oliphant, and the Premier of Gauteng, David Makhura, amongst other dignitaries.
The Project aims “to facilitate the transformation and growth of the diamond cutting and polishing sector in South Africa”, De Beers said in a press note, and will work with selected Black South African owned diamond cutting businesses.
Heads of five diamond cutting companies have been identified to participate in the programme. They are: Thoko Zwane and Zipho Dlamini, owners of Thoko’s Diamonds, Munirah Desai, owner of African Diamonds, Kealeboga Pule, owner of Nungu Diamonds, Musibudi Jo Mathole, owner of Kwame Diamonds and Molefi Letsiki, owner of Molefi Letsiki Diamond Holdings.
“The South African diamond cutting businesses, particularly new entrants to the sector, face competitive challenges competing locally and internationally and the programme has both a transformation aspect and a growth of the sector objective,” De Beers explained. “The programme includes interventions to improve the industry and business knowledge and foster opportunities to gain experience in rough diamond purchasing, manufacturing (cutting diamonds) as well as in the marketing and distribution of finished product into the polished diamond market.”
Barend Petersen, Chairman of De Beers Consolidated Mines (DBCM), said: “De Beers is fully committed to facilitating sustainable growth of the local diamond industry in South Africa”.
He added, “For beneficiation to succeed here there is a need to involve multiple stakeholders who will bring innovative thinking, skills and resources to ensure that South Africa remains a competitive player in the global diamond industry.”
Mpumi Zikalala, Senior Vice President of Kimberley-based De Beers Sightholder Sales South Africa, the project sponsor, said: “At the beginning of this year we embarked on a journey to support a Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) group of diamond cutters and polishers to develop increasingly more efficient businesses to better compete on the world diamond stage”.
She went to explain: “De Beers will provide bespoke rough diamond supply to the candidates, whilst they are part of the development programme and, on completion, they can apply to become Accredited Buyers of De Beers before they are ultimately in a position to apply for Sightholder status competing with other leading diamond companies around the world”.
De Beers said it will continue with its other beneficiation projects such as the Shining Light Awards, support of the Kimberley International Diamond and Jewellery Academy in Kimberley, the on-going support of the Diamond Indaba (hosted by the State Diamond Trader) and the Forevermark jewellery programme.
The incoming CEO of De Beers Group, Bruce Cleaver, concluded: “If, through this partnership, we can lay a successful platform for developing young beneficiators, then this project will go a long way towards creating a sustainable and meaningful diamond development pathway for other young local cutters and polishers for many years to come”.