Okavango Diamond Company (ODC) earned $31.16 million (P379.5 million)from the March sales cycle alone, with figures released by the company showing the highest value in a single stone weighing 102 carats, sold at $641,500.
The March sale was held prior to the global lockdowns, just before the severity of the COVID-19 pandemic began to spread. Managing Director of ODC, Marcus ter Haar, said that like many players in the industry, the company has undoubtedly witnessed the effects of COVID-19 on its rough diamond sales.
"The company has since taken the decision to cancel its sales, which were originally scheduled during both April and May," he said. With many global jewellery retail stores closed, pipeline demand is at historical lows. The industry is experiencing cuts in production forecasts for 2020 as a result of the suspension of mining and manufacturing activity across the globe. This has negatively impacted import and export of diamonds and diamond jewellery across the trade.
ODC’s biggest diamond market, India, has also imposed a one-month voluntary suspension of rough imports in a bid to manage an oversupply of diamond inventory.
“We are looking at a very delicate market, which has a number of factors requiring correction before any discernible recovery can take place. These dependencies include the easing of restrictions for consumers, rough buyers, regulators, producers, and (most) importantly the global movement of people and goods. What is imperative, of course is that health and safety is not compromised, and each segment of the value
ODC diamonds are sourced from Debswana, Botswana’s flagship diamond mining company. Like others operating in the upstream mining and sales of the Botswana diamond industry, due to COVID-19, ODC has had to temporarily close its offices and adopt a ‘remote work’ regime. The company is now completing its ramp-up plan to allow specific activity to resume whilst respecting strict health and safety guidelines.
“ODC recognises the wider impacts of COVID-19 on society in Botswana and as such I am proud that the company was able to respond to requests for assistance to tackle the effects of the pandemic," ter Haar added. In line with the business’s sustainability drive, ODC provided essential food supplies to help support the most vulnerable in Botswana. Commenting on the donation that will help feed approximately 650 families in remote communities, ter Haar said, “The natural consequences of these unprecedented circumstances are that many families have been adversely affected including some struggling with basic food security. At Okavango Diamond Company we believe, like many others who have made generous contributions that where we can, we have a role to play in supporting our communities”.