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May 2003

De Beers is complaining about a provision of the new South African royalty bill that puts an eight percent tax on the price of diamonds. With margins being what they are, such a tax will almost surely be passed on through the pipeline to the consumer.

“On initial scrutiny, the proposed level of royalty o diamonds appears to be discriminate when compared with the other proposed royalty rates,” said a De Beers statement.

South Africa’s finance minister Trevor Manuel described the eight percent rate as reasonable given the fact that South Africa’ neighbors charge a rate of up to 10 percent for diamonds. But the eight percent is still more than the bill charges any other commodity.

De Beers said it is still examining and analyzing the contents of the bill. Managing director Gary Ralfe has expressed fear that the bill could cause marginal mines to close.

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