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De Beers unit unearths 1,098 carat diamond, believed to be third-biggest ever

By Saima Siddiqui 
Updated Date

Botswana: Debswana Diamond Co. – a unit of De Beers Plc – on June 1, mined a 1,098 carat diamond in Botswana that is believed to be third-largest in the world and the largest since the company began operations five decades ago.

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The gigantic diamond was shown to Botswana President Mokgweetsi Masisi on Wednesday, two weeks after the diamond firm Debswana discovered it, as per a joint venture between Anglo American’s De Beers and the government.

Preliminary analysis suggests the stone is the world’s third-largest gem-quality diamond ever after the Cullinan Diamond that was discovered in South Africa in 1905 and the Lesedi la Rona that was found in Botswana in 2015, according to Debswana acting Managing Director Lynette Armstrong.

Valuation by the Diamond Trading Co. Botswana is due in a few weeks and at this point, Debswana can’t say whether the rock will be sold by De Beers or through the Okavango Diamond Co., a state-owned trader that also holds the right to buy Debswana stones, Armstrong said.

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“Debswana will work with the government of the Republic of Botswana and De Beers to value and sell the diamond to ensure it returns maximum benefit for the people of Botswana,” the company’s spokeswoman, Rachel Mothibatsela, said.

The stone was discovered at Jwaneng, the world’s richest mine by value, which is undergoing a $2 billion expansion.

Debswana is a 50/50 partnership between Botswana and De Beers to mine the gems in the southwestern African nation. Last year, the company produced 16.6 million carats, compared with 23.3 million carats in 2019.

Botswana accounts for more than two-thirds of De Beers’ output, while the country relies on diamonds for 90% of its exports. Last year, the nation’s total rough diamond sales fell 30% to $2.1 billion as mines suspended production due to the coronavirus pandemic.

In 2021, Debswana plans to increase output by as much as 38% to pre-pandemic levels of 23 million carats as the global diamond market recovers with the easing of travel restrictions and reopening of jewellers.

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