South African diamond cutting businesses, particularly for BEE entrants to the sector, face competitive challenges both locally and internationally. Therefore De Beers, the government and the South African diamond cutting industry have launched an enterprise development project for diamond beneficiators, which will work with selected black South African-owned diamond cutting businesses.
The programme has both a transformation aspect and a growth of the sector objective, which include:
- Interventions to improve industry and business knowledge;
- Fostering opportunities to gain experience in rough diamond purchasing;
- Manufacturing (cutting diamonds); and
- Marketing and distributing finished product into the polished diamond market.
Barend Petersen, chairman of De Beers Consolidated Mines (DBCM), says: “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.”
Introducing the five historically disadvantaged South African owned diamond cutting and polishing companies that have been selected to participate in the project, Mpumi Zikalala, senior vice president of Kimberley-based De Beers Sightholder Sales South Africa, and the project sponsor, says: “At the beginning of this year, we embarked on a journey to support a BEE group of diamond cutters and polishers to develop increasingly more efficient businesses to better compete on the world diamond stage.” The companies are Thoko’s Diamonds, African Diamonds, Nungu Diamonds, Kwame Diamonds and Molefi Letsiki Diamond Holdings.
De Beers to supply diamonds
Zikalala went on to say: “De Beers will provide the bespoke rough diamond supply to the candidates, while 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.” “By being engaged in a technical, production and business efficiency mentoring programme with successful South African and international diamond industry leaders the group will strive to achieve what many aspire to,” she says.
Creating a successful platform
De Beers 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 recently appointed CEO of De Beers Group, Bruce Cleaver, closed by saying: “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.”