NDTC to start sight holder evaluation


Windhoek – Namibia Diamond Trading Company (NDTC) will start evaluating new applications for sight holders this year and will award contracts for sale and processing of rough diamonds in 2015.

The diamond trading company signed contracts with 12 existing sight holders over a three-year period to 2015, which could either be replaced or renewed.

Namdeb Diamond Corp, which is equally owned by the Namibian government and Anglo American Plc's De Beers, sells rough diamonds through NDTC to customers known as sight holders, who are chosen for their financial standing, business reputation and marketing ability.

NDTC also places greater emphasis on buyers’ track-records in making purchases at previous sales events known as sights.

NDTC might decide to raise the number of sight holders depending on the availability of rough stones the company will be allowed to distribute, CEO Shihaleni Ndjaba said in an interview.

NDTC is also jointly owned by the Namibian government and Diamond Trading Co, the mining and sorting arm of De Beers, the world's largest diamond producer by value.

“NDTC could raise the number of sight holders, only if the availability of rough diamonds that we distribute is increased,” Ndjaba said.

“We will conduct a fair evaluation and assessment of the applications. The number of sight holders will depend on the projected availability of rough diamonds for the three years from 2015. At the moment I am not quite sure whether we will have more or less sight holders than we currently have,” Ndjaba said.

Existing cutting and polishing factories have “done a great job” and created more than a thousand jobs, Ndjaba said.

NDTC is living up to its mandate of promoting the local beneficiation of Namibian produced diamonds, Ndjaba said.

“Our purpose is to supply rough diamonds to operators in Namibia to maximise benefits locally. So far they have done a great job and created more than a thousand jobs,” Ndjaba said.

Namdeb's output of gems rose six percent in 2013 to 1.76 million carats.

“On average we have been availing about US$280 million worth of diamonds to sight holders every year for the past three years but sometimes companies only buy up to a certain amount,” Ndjaba said.

In December, the government said that it would wrap up negotiations with De Beers on the sale and marketing of gems by around June.

An agreement signed in 2007 allows De Beers to sell diamonds through DTC until the end of 2013. A new sales accord, to replace the deal signed in 2007 and which expired last December, will likely be signed in June.

Namibia is the world's largest producer of offshore diamonds, estimated to be around 80 million carats, the richest known marine deposits in the world. Marine diamonds deposits, said to have been carried along the ancient course of the Orange River and northward along the Atlantic beaches more than two million years ago, represent 90 percent of Namibia's known diamond resources.

Namdeb says it is currently investigating and investing in the right technology to mine the marine diamond deposits up to 2050 and beyond.

February 2014
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