A partnership between De Beers, government and the South African diamond cutting industry has launched an Enterprise Development Project for Diamond Beneficiators in Johannesburg, which aims to facilitate the transformation and growth of the diamond cutting and polishing sector in South Africa.
The holistic and developmental programme will work with selected Black South African-owned diamond cutting businesses. The South African diamond cutting businesses, particularly new entrants to the sector, face competitive challenges competing locally and internationally, and the programme has both a transformation aspect and a growth of the sector objective. It includes interventions to improve the industry and business knowledge and foster opportunities to gain experience in rough diamond purchasing, manufacturing (cutting diamonds) as well as in the marketing and distribution of finished product into the polished diamond market.
In the presence of the Deputy Minister of Mineral Resources, Godfrey Oliphant, and the Premier of Gauteng, David Makhura, Barend Petersen, Chairman of De Beers Consolidated Mines (DBCM), outlined the aims of the project and said: “De Beers is fully committed to facilitating sustainable growth of the local diamond industry in South Africa.
However, “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”, he said.
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, said: “At the beginning of this year we embarked on a journey to support a Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) group of diamond cutters and polishers to develop increasingly more efficient businesses to better compete on the world diamond stage.”
Zikalala went on to say: “De Beers will provide bespoke rough diamond supply to the candidates, whilst they are part of the development programme and, on completion, they will 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 said.
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.”