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'We want a bigger share': Botswana, De Beers row over diamond profits

Botswana President Mokgweetsi Masisi (R) holds a gem diamond in Gaborone, Botswana, on June 16, 2021   -  
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Botswana's President Mokgweetsi Masisi warned Sunday that his country could sever ties with South African diamond giant De Beers if talks to renegotiate a sales agreement prove unfavorable for his country.

The 2011 sales agreement governing the terms of marketing diamonds produced by Debswana - a 50-50 joint venture between the government and De Beers - expired in 2021.

It has been extended by the parties, who cited the coronavirus outbreak as the reason for the delay in concluding negotiations, and will end on June 30, 2023.

Speaking at a rally of his ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) in his home village of Moshupa, about 65 kilometers from the capital Gaborone, Masisi warned, "If we don't reach a win-win situation, each side will have to pack up and go home."

Under the 2011 agreement, the mining company De Beers received 90% of the rough diamonds produced while Botswana, Africa's largest diamond producer, received 10%. In 2020, Botswana's share was increased to 25%.

In 2020, Botswana's share was increased to 25%.

Today, "we got a glimpse of how the diamond market works, and we found out that we received less than we should have," said Mr. Masisi, who spoke in both English and the local language, Tswana.

"We also found out that our diamonds are bringing in a lot of profit and that the (2011) agreement had not been favorable to us," he added, before warning: "We want a bigger share of our diamonds. Business cannot continue as before.

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