World’s third largest diamond unearthed in Botswana

Published June 17, 2021
President Mokgweetsi Masisi holds the precious stone in Gaborone. — Photo by AFP
President Mokgweetsi Masisi holds the precious stone in Gaborone. — Photo by AFP

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 (June 16) 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.

A 1,098 carat diamond, discovered in Botswana and believed to be the third largest gem-quality stone ever to be mined, is seen in this undated handout picture received June 16, 2021. — Reuters
A 1,098 carat diamond, discovered in Botswana and believed to be the third largest gem-quality stone ever to be mined, is seen in this undated handout picture received June 16, 2021. — Reuters

"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," Armstrong said.

Minerals Minister Lefoko Moagi said the discovery of the yet-to-be named stone, which measures 73mm long, 52mm wide and 27mm 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.

A Botswana member of cabinet holds a gem diamond in Gaborone, Botswana, on June 16, 2021. — AFP
A Botswana member of cabinet holds a gem diamond in Gaborone, Botswana, on June 16, 2021. — AFP

Production at Debswana fell 29pc in 2020 to 16.6 million carats while sales fell 30pc to $2.1 billion as the pandemic impacted both production and demand.

In 2021, Debswana plans to increase output by as much as 38pc to pre-pandemic levels of 23m carats as the global diamond market recovers with the easing of travel restrictions and reopening of jewellers.

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