Partnership does not equate to nationalisation, Sakhile Ngcobo, head of corporate affairs at De Beers Consolidated Mines, said.
Ngcobo was addressing the second day of the Black Management Forum’s (BMF) summit in Johannesburg.
“De Beers has had a long history of success in Africa because of its partnerships. We have partnerships in Namibia, Botswana and also in Angola where exploration is being done.”
Ngcobo said that in all its negotiations with the government of Botswana, which took place every year, the topic of nationalisation had never come up.
“But every year we are asked what we can do better to benefit the people of Botswana.”
The diamond industry was the lifeline of Botswana’s economy and for over 40 years De Beers had enabled the country’s population to enjoy a higher standard of living.
“In our discussions with Botswana, we study the issue of beneficiation though – we have to ask how come China, India and Belgium manage beneficiation [the cutting and polishing of diamonds] and why we as Africans didn’t take the opportunity to do this,” Ngcobo said.
“De Beers is not suggesting that its partnership idea is a cure for all things – but it is something to think about.”
Ngcobo said De Beers had recently sold some of its operations in South Africa.
“Most of the assets we’ve disposed of have gone to Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) entities and to the communities – and Jaggersfontein is an example.”
Recently De Beers announced that it had closed a transaction in which all of the company’s assets at Jagersfontein had been acquired by the Superkolong Consortium, thereby introducing miners with empowerment credentials to opportunities which had the potential to deliver significant returns.