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Angola continues to negotiate “difficult process” for De Beers to return to the country

Angola continues to negotiate the return of De Beers to the country, in a "difficult process" and "pedagogical work" for the recovery of confidence in the South African diamond industry, said the Minister of Mineral and Petroleum Resources.

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Diamantino de Azevedo, who was assessing Angola's participation this Thursday in the mining fair "Indaba Mining 2020", which has been taking place since Monday in the South African city of Cape, said that the negotiation process with De Beers has been going on for almost two years now.

"It is a difficult process, we will continue […], it is not so easy to have De Beers again in Angola. It takes a whole pedagogical work, to create trust again, to create trust is much more difficult than ending that trust. . It has been a complex job", said the minister.

The conflict between De Beers and the Government, through Endiama, started in early 2000, after the authorities suspended all diamond purchase and sale contracts in the context of a sector restructuring, which included the creation of Sodiam, company to which the diamond marketing monopoly was attributed.

Following this worsening of relations, at the end of March 2000, a batch of diamonds from Angola, sent by Sodiam, was held in Antwerp, Belgium for a few days due to a court order from De Beers, which defended its rights. about the marketing of those precious stones.

In the following months, there were several initiatives to improve the relationship between the two parties, which included a trip to Luanda by the president of the South African multinational to meet with José Eduardo dos Santos, but all without success.

For this reason, in 2001, the year in which it suspended its activity in Angola, De Beers filed several arbitral proceedings against the State, which it would later lose.

This Thursday, the minister recalled the visit that the CEO of De Beers, Bruce Cleavers, made to Angola in 2018 and that, in November 2019, met with this person in Botswana.

"This year, in Indaba, we met again with a new person in charge of the prospecting area, who will be the new interlocutor in this process of conversation with De Beers. It is a very patient process and we must be very cautious in the negotiation of this process, but it is ongoing and we will continue to discuss with De Beers", he stressed.

In 2018, when traveling to Angola, the CEO of De Beers, Bruce Cleaver, was received by President João Lourenço, expressing satisfaction at the invitation issued to the multinational to return to the country, where he has maintained a residual presence since 2014.

This intention to return to the Portuguese-speaking country is supported by changes in legislation in the diamond sector, which put an end to the policy based on preferential customers, giving priority to only a very restricted group of sales of diamond production.

The new legislation allows diamond companies in Angola to sell up to 60 percent of production.

De Beers had 280 employees by 2012, which it reduced to 15, after the lack of concessions for diamond exploration.