Is Bots starting to witness diamond beneficiation?

Mpho Tebele

GABORONE – In a sign that diamond beneficiation may be becoming a reality in Botswana, De Beers spent billions in Botswana last year.

This is revealed in the company’s 2016 Society Report released this week titled “De Beer and its joint venture put Botswana supply chain with P4.3 Billion Spend 2016.”

In the past, De Beers has been accused of failing to ensure that Botswana and other countries in the region where it has operations and keeps on raking in millions of dollars from diamond sales enjoy the benefits of being the hosts of its diamond mines. According to the Group’s latest report, published this week, De Beers group and its joint ventures spent more than P4 billion in Botswana in 2016 purchasing goods and services from local businesses. The report states that the group spent with Botswana-based businesses, which represented 81 percent of the group’s and its joint ventures’ total procurement spent in Botswana, comprised payments for both core business and ancillary services.

The latest report further says that De Beers Group and its joint ventures also increased the amount they invested in community development programmes in Botswana by 31 per cent to P124 million in 2016.

It says funding was provided for a range of projects, including upgrades to community health and education facilities, accommodation programmes for key workers and cultural tourism development.

According to the report, recognising the importance of Botswana’s rich ecosystem, De Beers Group and its joint ventures also ran a number of programmes designed to protect species under threat or in danger of extinction.

This included a rhino conservation initiative, supported by Debswana – the 50/50 joint venture between De Beers Group and the government of Botswana – to increase the country’s rhino population through a breeding programme that then releases rhinos back into the wild.

The report states that as a result of improved financial and operating performance, globally De Beers Group returned $5 billion to stakeholders – a 26 per cent rise on 2015 – through taxes, payments and dividends, emphasising the importance of the relationships with stakeholders, including governments, communities, suppliers and joint venture partners in 2016.

Commenting on the report, Bruce Cleaver, CEO, De Beers Group, said: “While our diamond partnership with the Government of Botswana has delivered a great deal of direct economic benefit over the last five decades, we are increasingly looking for ways in which we can also maximise our contribution outside of our core business.”

He added that “Putting the supply chain to work is helping to secure jobs and deliver substantial benefits to local businesses across a range of sectors. Meanwhile, our community investments are helping with the provision of important services for people who need them across the country.”

May 2017
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