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Botswana seeks option to buy unusually big diamonds from its mines

Mon 18th September, 2017 2:28pm
GABORONE, Sept 18 (Reuters) - Botswana is amending its law 
to give the government the first option to buy diamonds that are 
unusually large or have other unusual features found in its 
mines, such as the world's second-biggest 1,109 carat diamond 
discovered two years ago. 
    The cornerstone of Botswana's success has been one 
commodity, diamonds, coupled with a rigid adherence to prudent 
use of revenues, a rarity on a continent where natural riches 
are routinely squandered or stolen, or the cause of civil war. 
    A draft bill amending the Precious and Semi-Precious Stones 
Act says any producer coming into possession of what it terms an 
"unusual" rough or uncut diamond shall notify the minister 
within 30 days after which government shall have the first 
option to buy the stone. 
    The bill did not give a precise definition of "unusual".  
    But an official told a local newspaper that it referred to 
stones that were unusually large, were particularly clear or had 
an unusual colour. 
    Moses Tshetlhane, chief minerals officer in the Mineral 
Resources Minister, told Mmegi Newspaper the amendment was 
motivated by the recovery of "Lesedi La Rona", or "Our Light", 
the largest diamond uncovered in over a century.  
    "The price to be paid by government for a rough or uncut 
precious stone offered for sale by the producer shall be agreed 
between the parties in accordance with the current market price 
of the rough or uncut precious stone," the bill says. 
    The tennis ball-sized stone was found in November 2015 at 
Lucara Diamond Corp's  LUC.TO  mine in Botswana and is yet to 
find a buyer after it failed to sell at Sotheby's auction house 
in June 2016.  urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nL1N1KQ1EV  urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nL1N19L1TH     
    "These outliers carry special features and any producer 
would celebrate such or even have them in museums as national 
treasures. So it is not unusual for governments to have options 
in such unusual diamonds," Tshetlhane said. 
    Lucara also unearthed another 812.77 carat stone, The 
Constellation, at the same mine, which fetched $63 million at an 
auction in 2016. 
 
 (Writing by Nqobile Dludla; Editing by Edmund Blair) 
 ((nqobile.dludla@thomsonreuters.com; +27117753126; Reuters 
Messaging: nqobile.dludla.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net)) 
 
Keywords: BOTSWANA DIAMONDS/
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