Botswana Government Takes Stake in HB Antwerp

SourcingApr 04, 2023

Botswana Government Takes Stake in HB Antwerp

The news came as the diamond manufacturer officially opened a new factory in Gaborone, its first outside Antwerp.

20230404_HB Botswana opening.jpg
Botswana President Mokgweetsi E.K. Masisi, far left, and First Lady Neo Masisi attend the opening of HB Botswana in Gaborone on March 27. HB Botswana is HB Antwerp’s first diamond manufacturing facility outside of Belgium. (Photo courtesy of HB Antwerp)
Gaborone, Botswana—The government of Botswana has taken a 24 percent equity stake in diamond manufacturer HB Antwerp, a partnership the country’s president described as a potential “game-changer.”

The news came last week as HB Antwerp officially opened the doors of HB Botswana, its first diamond manufacturing facility outside Belgium.

It marked the milestone with an inauguration ceremony held in the nation’s capital, Gaborone, and attended by HB Antwerp executives and Botswana President Mokgweetsi E.K. Masisi.

HB Botswana is located in Gaborone’s Diamond Technology Park and is closely modeled after the company’s factory in Belgium.

HB Antwerp said its opening “fulfills the company’s promise to bring its cutting-edge, proprietary technologies to Botswana, supporting the country's transformation into a diamond knowledge center.”

“The HB Botswana facility in Botswana is the realization of close collaboration and partnership between the government of the Republic of Botswana and HB Antwerp,” President Masisi said during the inauguration.

“We are forging a brighter future for the next generation of Botswana, taking unprecedented ownership over our natural resources to realize their potential for our nation’s sustainable development fully.”

In addition to taking a 24 percent stake in HB Antwerp, Masisi said government-owned rough diamond trading company, the Okavango Diamond Company (ODC), will supply rough diamonds to HB Botswana for five years.

The plotting, cutting and polishing of those diamonds will take place in Botswana.

ODC is the company that bought and polished the 41-carat rough blue diamond recovered from the Orapa mine in May 2018. The stone was the centerpiece of an exhibition about diamonds from Botswana at the American Museum of Natural History in New York.

ODC is separate from Debswana, the mining company joint venture between the government of Botswana and De Beers Group.

Per the current sales agreement between the Botswana government and De Beers, Debswana has to sell 75 percent of its rough diamond output to De Beers, while the remaining 25 percent goes to ODC.

The deadline to renegotiate that contract, which dates back to January 2011, has been extended three times, with Masisi, who is up for re-election next year, stating publicly that Botswana could walk away from the decades-old partnership if his country doesn’t get a bigger cut.

The sales agreement is currently set to expire in June. 

In a statement shared with National Jeweler this week, De Beers said it continues to work toward a new sales agreement for Debswana diamonds and the Debswana mining licenses. 

It added, “We recognize there is significant interest regarding our negotiations with the Government of the Republic of Botswana to agree to a long-term mining license and sales agreement for Debswana. 

“At the heart of these is a discussion on how best to broaden and deepen the unparalleled socio-economic growth our 54-year partnership has delivered with and for Batswana … With our proven and successful business model … we are proud of what we have delivered as a partner, and we are excited by our collective potential to ensure even more Batswana can add more value to, and generate more value from, their finite natural resource.” 

 Related stories will be right here … 

HB Antwerp has a deal in place with another company that mines diamonds in Botswana, Lucara Diamond Corp.

After partnering on a couple of big, notable diamonds in 2020, the two companies inked a 10-year supply agreement in November 2022 covering the larger (10.8 carats and up) diamonds Lucara finds at its mine, Karowe. 

Under the terms of the agreement, Lucara sells its big diamonds to HB Antwerp at prices based on the expected polished outcome of each diamond. 

HB Antwerp determines the outcome using state-of-the-art scanning and planning technology, with a true-up paid on actual achieved polished sales, minus a fee and the cost of manufacturing.

At the time the companies reached the agreement, HB Antwerp co-founder Oded Mansori said, “The Lucara-HB agreement reflects the renewed commitment of both companies to embrace a new approach to sourcing, transforming, and distributing mineral resources—based on equity, transparency, and sustainability, providing meaningful benefits to all participants, including the people and communities of Botswana.” 

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