1,098-carat diamond pulled from mine in Botswana
Rock found by Debswana Diamond Company is 3rd-largest gem-quality stone ever mined
A 1,098-carat diamond believed to be the third-largest gem-quality stone ever to be mined has been discovered in Botswana, according to a joint venture between Anglo American's De Beers and the government.
The stone was presented to President Mokgweetsi Masisi on Wednesday by Debswana Diamond Company's acting managing director, Lynette Armstrong. It is the third-largest in the world, behind the 3,106-carat Cullinan stone recovered in South Africa in 1905 and the 1,109-carat Lesedi La Rona unearthed by Lucara Diamonds in Botswana in 2015.
"This is the largest diamond to be recovered by Debswana in its history of over 50 years in operation," Armstrong said.
"From our preliminary analysis, it could be the world's third-largest gem-quality stone. We are yet to make a decision on whether to sell it through the De Beers channel or through the state-owned Okavango Diamond Company."
WATCH | Botswana President Mokgweetsi Masisi gives thanks after huge diamond found in Botswana:
Diamonds were discovered in Botswana in 1967 and Debswana was formed in 1969.
Minerals Minister Lefoko Moagi said the discovery of the yet-to-be-named stone, which measures 73 mm long, 52 mm wide and 27 mm thick, could not have come at a better time, after the COVID-19 pandemic hit diamond sales in 2020.
The government receives as much as 80 per cent of the income from Debswana's sales through dividends, royalties and taxes.
Diamonds account for about two-thirds of Botswana's export earnings.
Production at Debswana fell 29 per cent in 2020, to 16.6 million carats, while sales fell 30 per cent to $2.6 billion, as the pandemic impacted both production and demand.
In 2021, Debswana plans to increase output by as much as 38 per cent to pre-pandemic levels of 23 million carats, as the global diamond market recovers with the easing of travel restrictions and the reopening of jewellers.
"With the recent introduction of a modern, state-of-the-art large diamond pilot plant, I have every hope that we will be able to recover more large diamonds," said Armstrong, Debswana's acting managing director.
"This by all standards is a great metallurgical achievement, to recover a diamond of this size intact through our conventional ore processing plant."
With files from the Associated Press