Gaborone — The natural diamond industry has seen a major evolution and continues to expand into an important driver to economic development in the producer countries and across the value chains, Minister of Minerals and Energy, Mr Lefoko Moagi has said.
Speaking during the Natural Diamond Industry Summit 2023 on Monday(November 13), Minister Moagi said the industry had strived for decades, transcending many global challenges that had seen other industries and major corporations collapse.
He said sustainability was the critical point of congruence for the diamond industry in a world of evolving consumer attitudes, current challenging trading conditions and the ever-changing complexities of the diamond recovery.
"From major technological advances that have transformed productivity and supported value chain development to the consolidation of industry players and emergence of new diamond centres, the natural diamond industry has surely stood the test of time," the minister said.
He said diamonds had over the years proved to be the engine through which the country's aspirations for greater wealth and equitable future could be realised.
He nonetheless said natural diamonds' potential could only be fully harnessed through embracing a new paradigm, one that placed sustainability at its core. He stated that Botswana had developed a strong narrative around diamond production and responsible natural resource management over the years hence had become a top performer on the continent across many indexes as a result of its excellent sustainability practices.
With the industry in midst of major global challenges that compel it to consider how best to move forward, Minister Moagi pleaded with other diamond producing countries and the entire value chain to work together to ensure that it remained a catalyst for sustainable growth.
"In its 100 years of existence, there is a great deal that the diamond industry has achieved, therefore it is critical that we expand the good industry practices to other sectors and leverage the product to support people and the product more broadly during this trying times of low diamonds demand," he said.
For his part, De Beers Group Chief Executive Officer, Mr Al Cook, said the current macroeconomic landscape was affecting the industry.
He, however, stated that he was optimistic of the future of natural diamonds given the sector's strong foundations.
"Such foundations included favourable long-term supply and demand dynamics underpinned by rising middle classes in China, India and the United States of America.
He said the new Botswana and De Beers deal provided long-term stability for the industry, while being a catalyst for socio-economic transformation within Botswana.
The deal, he said, was a transformative agreement that would see Botswana equalise the share of Debswana's diamonds that it sold.
He said it would also enable De Beers' long-term capital investment in Debswana's expansion through projects like the Jwaneng underground transition and make possible the potential for the creation of new jobs in Botswana, both within its diamond economy and in emerging sectors.
"Our partnership with Botswana has endured for more than 50 years not by standing still. It has evolved, and our recent agreement with the government will support the growth of Botswana and the diamond industry for decades to come," he said.