Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Minerals, Energy Resources and Water Affairs, Mmetla Masire, has issued a stern warning that Botswana cannot engage in production and sale of synthetic diamonds as that will compromise the value of its natural diamonds.
Addressing the Parliamentary Accounts Committee, he said that Botswana’s diamonds are highly rated and therefore if the country was to produce and sell synthetic diamonds, that would seriously impact on the value and send confusing message to its customers.
“Let’s not compromise our diamonds. If we start production of synthetic diamonds or any association with them we will be compromising the value of our diamonds,” he said.
Masire said that although the United States of America buys 50 percent of Botswana diamonds, Debswana is looking for other markets such as China which has potential.
He said that the outbreak of COVID19 has had a negative impact on the sale of diamonds but they hope that there will be recovery in the near future.
The technocrat treaded carefully around the issue of ongoing negotiations between the government and DeBeers Group saying that disclosure of any information pertaining to the negotiations has potential to have impact on the outcome.
He also said that the existing agreement between the government and DeBeers cannot be made public because other competitors may use it against any of the parties to sabotage the deal.
“It is not like we are trying to hide anything, we can share some information with Batswana, but the main thing is that the document has got some clauses that may expose us, remember we are in competition with others. Yes, we can share some things, but others can not go public.
Also remember that we moved sight-holding from London to Botswana, we have also increased beneficiation funds to close to 800 million, which shows that we share keypoints although it may not be enough,” Masire told the committee.
He said that he is not aware if the government intends to acquire more stake in the DeBeers group or whether the company is offering any shares for acquisition.