Botswana president insists on bigger share of diamonds from De Beers venture

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Botswana will not back down on demands for a bigger share of rough diamonds from its joint venture with De Beers, President Mokgweetsi Masisi said on Thursday, upping the stakes as talks for a new sales deal appear to be stalling. De Beers, a unit of Anglo American Plc (AAL.L) , gets 75% of Debswana’s production, which was 24 million carats in 2022.

The balance is sold to state-owned Okavango Diamond Company, a vehicle established in 2011 as Botswana began moves to independently sell some gems outside of the De Beers system.

Masisi, who has been Botswana’s president since 2018 and will seek re-election in next year’s elections, now wants Botswana to sell more of its diamonds outside the De Beers channel. “Our agreement with De Beers is very restrictive to us. We signed it at a time when we didn’t know much, but now our eyes are open,” Masisi said at a community meeting in Mmadinare, 400 kilometres (248.55 miles) north-east of the capital, Gaborone.

Masisi hinted at a possible stalemate and litigation over the sales agreement. “Even if we lose the litigation, our diamonds will remain ours and we will never give in. If I am going to lose votes because of this issue, then so be it,” said Masisi, speaking in Setswana.

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