Cecilia Jamasmie | March 30, 2015
De Beers is fine-tuning details of a set of new conditions for companies seeking to join its group of customers known as “sightholders.”
According to FT.com (subs. required), the diamond giant — which sells $6 billion of unpolished gems a year and is the world’s largest supplier by value — wants traders to hold a specified proportion of equity in their businesses, so they are less reliant on bank borrowing.
De Beers, which last revised its sightholder contracts in 2011, will give companies time to make changes to their accounting practices. But sightholders unwilling or unable to do so will lose their status.
The move seeks to direct gems to the most financially sound purchasers and make the business more transparent, echoing other signs that the diamond industry is starting to modernize.
The introduction of online trading, where dealers can buy and sell parcels of gems worth millions online, is providing real-time pricing data, and represents a challenge to the old, more secretive ways of doing business, while banks that lend to the industry are demanding a more corporate approach from diamond traders and manufacturers.
Anglo American (LON:AAL) bought Oppenheimer family’s 40% ownership in De Beers for $5.1 billion in 2012, increasing its stake to 85% and ending the dynasty’s 80-year ownership. Botswana controls the rest of the business, founded by the British imperialist Cecil Rhodes
Global diamond giant De Beers Group announced Tuesday it is implementing an updated model for the allocation of rough diamonds by its primary distribution arm, Global Sightholder Sales (GSS), for the March 2015 to March 2018 contractual period.
The fresh model, said the Anglo American (LON:AAL) unit, involves a new method for determining GSS’s rough diamond customer base, with a simplified, compliance and demand-based customer qualification process being introduced.
The world’s largest diamond miner by market value also said it will adopt a more flexible sales approach, through which non sightholder diamond businesses would have opportunities to buy rough diamonds from GSS.
“The more rigorous financial and existing ethical compliance requirements will also help to reinforce third-party confidence in the strength and transparency of GSS’s customer base,” De Beers Group CEO Philippe Mellier said in the statement.
This is not the first innovation to rough diamonds sales De Beers introduces this year. In January, the firm said it has not ruled out an expansion of its Victor diamond mine in Canada. In March, it revealed it was looking to tap into the new markets, landing later a new diamond exploration license in Angola, the world’s fourth largest producer of diamonds by value, and sixth by volume.
Around 90% of De Beers’ total rough diamond availability by value is sold through GSS.
The newly elected president of the World Diamond Council, Edward Asscher, put a chill Tuesday on the movement to expand the scope of the Kimberley Process and so cover general human rights abuses, stating the trade body should focus exclusively on diamonds proceeding from conflict zones.
Speaking at the Intercessional Meeting of the Kimberley Process In Shanghai, Asscher said he supported increasing the scope of a global monitoring of the trade in rough diamonds to counter all forms of organized violence, not only those associated with civil wars. However, he drew a line at “other social and humanitarian challenges”, saying this task should be left to other industry actors.
Currently the KP only addresses diamonds produced in areas controlled by rebel militias. It doesn’t take into consideration violence committed by governments.
“The implementation of the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme in 2003 saved many lives,” he said in his speech. “Its effectiveness inspired further confidence in our product, the diamond.”
KP only addresses diamonds produced in areas controlled by rebel militias. It doesn’t take into consideration violence committed by governments.