For nearly 80 years the precious natural commodity of diamonds dug from the diamond mines of Botswana have been sorted in London. Botswana has for many years campaigned to carry out the sorting of its rough stones locally. This now appears to have come to pass.
The country is the world's largest producer of diamonds. Gabarone is the new location for diamond sorting in Botswana, meaning this phase of a rough stone's life has been radically changed. Although only the first step in the journey, it will develop Botswana as a major international centre for sorting stones, handling about $6 billion dollars worth of diamonds.
Although the agreement to move sorting to Botswana was agreed six years ago, delays meant that it could not be put into operation until 2012. Debswana, Botswana's main diamond mining company and owned jointly by De Beers and the Botswana government, signed the final agreement in November 2011 to make the move, enabling Botswana to sell 10% of locally manufactured gem stones.
De Beers has also agreed to make available to manufacturing companies in the country, an increase to $800 million dollars of diamonds per year from the $550 million it currently makes available.