Not all gloom and doom in the diamond industry; new diamond factory opens

Despite the ongoing turbulent times in the diamond trading market, KGK Diamond factory recently set up shop this past week. The new factory which was officially opened by Minister of Minerals, Energy and Water Resources, Kitso Mokaila incorporates the latest diamond cutting and polishing technologies. Speaking at the factory’s opening, Minister Mokaila said,  “…the timing of opening this factory could not have come at a more opportune time as the global commodities market is going through difficulties which are impacting on mineral dependent economies like that of Botswana. We welcome KGK to Botswana and can see from their investment to date that they are committed to Botswana.”

Mokaila further highlighted that Botswana’s diamond cutting and polishing industry experienced unprecedented challenges during the first half of the year. This he attributed to a combination of volatility in the diamond sector and changing global economic fundamentals. “These challenges resulted in the closure of two of the oldest diamond cutting and polishing factories in the country and massive retrenchments in many of the remaining operations. For an economy already faced with challenges of youth unemployment, the closure and retrenchments have been very painful not just to those directly affected but to me as a leader under whose portfolio this industry falls. But given their proven track record in manufacturing around the world, I am hopeful that KGK will be able to sustain itself during such worrying times. ”

KGK Diamonds was initially granted a Botswana diamond cutting and polishing license in March 2013 and in the intervening period has focused on undertaking the necessary steps to inaugurate the factory, with the help and support of a variety of local agencies. KGK Botswana initially imported rough diamonds from its international operations in January 2015 to start the training of workers ahead of the factory opening. KGK’s current workforce is 55 Batswana and 35 expatriates. “We have long held the ambition to open a cutting and  polishing factory in Botswana to add to our portfolio of factories. KGK has a strong foundation that was laid down in 1905 in gemstones, diamonds and jewelry and we are involved in all aspects of the pipeline from diamond and jewelery manufacturing to global distribution and retailing,” expressed Chairman of the KGK Group, Navrattan Kothari.

Further, Kothari said as KGK they see a big potential in Botswana as it is the largest producer of diamonds in the world and that they will continue to showcase commitment to beneficiation in Botswana through employing expert trainers to transfer skills to Batswana youth.

Responding to questions on why they were setting up now when the mineral sector was going through a rough patch, Kothari expressed that because of their long existence in the diamond business they were ready to ride through the challenges, “sometimes business does good and sometimes it does badly but that does not mean you should close up shop. It just means you need to come up with strategies of remaining in the market and being a game changer.”