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Vol 43 No 12

Published 14th June 2002

Blood from stones

De Beers' diamond empire wants to polish its reputation – and its product

De Beers, the company which dominates world diamonds, hopes to maintain both its share of the market and the reputation of its gems. At stake, among other things, is the prosperity of Botswana. The right to extract diamonds there is shared 50-50 between its government and De Beers (AC Vol 42 No 14) through the Debswana company, which produces 70 per cent of De Beers' Southern African gems, 80 per cent of Botswana's export income and half of its government's revenue. Botswana accounts for 70 per cent of the production of all De Beers controlled diamond mines; South Africa and Namibia form 30 per cent. Yearly, Botswana produces 20-30 per cent of the world total. The reputation, and therefore the price, of diamonds is endangered by the notorious trade in 'blood diamonds', which has fuelled the civil wars in Angola and Sierra Leone.

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