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March 2005

African leaders are again calling on De Beers’ Diamond Trading Company to move its headquarters from London, where it has been for years, to South Africa.

South African Minister of Mines Phumzile Mlambo-Ngucka has repeatedly said she would like to see the DTC relocate to South Africa.

“We think we are just as competent in southern Africa to provide the services that are provided in London,” she said.

Mlambo-Ngucka has been a key force in the drive to have more cutting jobs in Southern Africa. To achieve this, she has proposed an export duty that would make it substantially less profitable to export stones out of South Africa.

But for the moment the company has no plans to leave London, according to De Beers managing director Gary Ralfe. But Ralfe did add that the amount of people in London have fallen, and some of those jobs have migrated to Southern Africa.

In any case, South Africa may have competition from its next-door neighbor Botswana, which has also begun to call for greater “benefication” and greater value-added jobs for locals. South Africa’s Business Report recently wrote that, as part of the agreement that De Beers recently signed with Botswana, De Beers will get involved with directly marketing Botswana’s diamonds and move more of its DTC operations to Botswana.

Plans for a new joint venture to market Botswana’s stones was included in the country’s 2005 budget, the newspaper said.

DTC managing director Gareth Penny said it was also possible that there could be a DTC sales arm in Namibia, where the government is also a partner with De Beers.

Analysts said this could be the beginning of an “erosion” of the DTC’s centralized “single-channel
functions, and begin a new era when each country’s diamonds are sold independently, mostly to factories inside those countries.

De Beers officials for now say they have no plans to shut the DTC and will continue their selling and marketing activities.

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