De Beers Group is the world’s leading diamond company and the world’s largest diamond producer by value. It has mines in four countries – Botswana, Canada, Namibia and South Africa – and employs more than 20,000 people.
The company was established in 1888 and is owned 85 per cent by Anglo American and 15 per cent by the Government of the Republic of Botswana.
With its headquarters in London, it has unrivalled expertise across the diamond value chain – from exploration and production, to rough diamond sales and diamond jewellery retail.
The search for diamonds requires huge investment, advanced technology and traditional exploration know-how. Our exploration activities are currently focused on Botswana and Canada.
De Beers uses four types of mining: open-pit, underground, marine and alluvial.
We have open-pit mines in Botswana, Canada and South Africa (we are building an underground extension to our open-pit Venetia mine in South Africa). In Namibia, we use onshore extraction techniques to mine alluvial diamonds and have six specialised ships searching the Atlantic off the country’s southern coast.
Much of our mining is carried out by joint ventures. In Botswana, our partner is the Government of the Republic of Botswana; in Namibia, we partner with the Government of the Republic of Namibia; in South Africa, our partner is Ponahalo Holdings; in Canada, De Beers Canada has worked with indigenous communities to create the world’s newest diamond mine, Gahcho Kué.
We believe that diamonds are a catalyst for creating value and socio-economic benefit for our host countries. We also support their cutting and polishing industries through our beneficiation strategy, seeking to ensure they gain more value from their diamonds. Our aim is to leave a positive, lasting legacy in our host countries when mining ceases.
We sell about 90 per cent of our rough diamonds, by value, to customers known as Sightholders or Accredited Buyers. Sightholders have a contract covering the sale of diamonds over an agreed period. Accredited Buyers have a more ad hoc arrangement.
Our Global Sightholder Sales operation holds 10 Sights (or sales events) a year, where customers can inspect the rough diamonds before buying. The remaining 10 per cent of diamonds are sold via online auctions, where we are a world leader.
De Beers has sales operations in Belgium, Botswana, Dubai, Hong Kong, Israel, Namibia, Singapore and South Africa.
De Beers markets polished diamonds to consumers through two brands, Forevermark and De Beers Jewellers.
Diamonds from Forevermark, launched in 2008, are now available in more than 2,300 stores in 26 markets. Only one per cent of diamonds are of sufficient quality to bear the Forevermark inscription.
De Beers Jewellers was established in 2001 and its flagship store opened the following year at 50 Old Bond Street in London, UK. In 2018, it launched a new online store in partnership with Farfetch, shipping throughout 100 countries and via 10 language sites.
Our Element Six operation is the world leader in the design, development and production of synthetic diamond materials for industrial and electronic purposes. And the De Beers Technologies businesses have research and development operations in Brazil, China, Germany, Ireland, South Africa, Sweden and the UK.
De Beers has established the International Institute of Diamond Grading & Research, whose expertise lies in equipment to test for undisclosed synthetic diamonds. It is located in London, Antwerp and in Surat, where we opened the world’s most technically advanced diamond grading centre in 2015.
Mining of any kind has an effect on the environment. That places a responsibility on mining companies to minimise the impact. De Beers takes that responsibility seriously and invests heavily to find a balance between economic growth and long-term sustainability.
Our efforts in this area cover land and marine conservation, as well as rehabilitation after mine closure. The land we manage for conservation covers around 200,000 hectares, six times the area of land affected by our mining activities.
We operate the Diamond Route, a series of conservation areas across southern Africa. Countless birds, mammals and fish species benefit from our conservation work, some of them on the Red List of endangered species. Plants and flowers are also important to the programme, and careful seed collection takes place to ensure species prosper.
The Diamond Route, launched in 2002, is an award-winning flagship programme and highlights De Beers’ role as a major force in conservation, and it underlines the link between natural diamonds and the natural world and supports the company’s commitment to responsible sourcing.
De Beers operates in line with international best practice and ethical business principles.
In the late 1990s, when the issue of conflict diamonds emerged, De Beers played a key role in developing the Kimberley Process, a joint government, industry and civil society collaboration to stem the flow of conflict diamonds.
De Beers is also committed to addressing other key industry issues, such as human rights, labour, social and environmental standards. In 2003, the company launched the Best Practice Principles Assurance Programme. The programme enables De Beers to monitor its operations, customers and subcontractors for compliance with best practice ethical standards.
In September 2017, we partnered with UN Women and made a commitment to support women across our diamond producing countries, throughout our business and in our marketing campaigns.
We are investing US$3 million to support women and girls in Botswana, Canada, Namibia and South Africa; we aim to more than double the rate of women appointed to senior leadership roles in order to achieve parity in the appointment of women and men to these positions by 2020; and our consumer brands, Forevermark and De Beers Jewellers, are shaping creative marketing campaigns that are a positive force for gender equality.
We have also launched #CountMeIn, encouraging as many people as possible to commit to HeForShe. HeForShe was instigated by UN Women in 2014 as a solidarity movement for gender equality. It invites people from around the world to stand together as equal partners to speed up the pace of change towards gender equality.
We do what we can to support the communities that surround our mines – not least through education (eg financial support for schools), economic and business assistance (eg mentoring) and health.
One of the major health concerns in southern Africa is the high incidence of HIV/AIDS. We have implemented a programme of HIV/AIDS education, prevention, treatment, care and support for our employees, their families and, where possible, their communities.
Diamonds may last forever, but mines don’t. When mining finishes, we want to leave our host communities in the strongest possible position for future prosperity.