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De Beers allows unlimited deferrals at March sight – report

27 march 2020

De Beers will permit sightholders unlimited deferrals at its March rough-diamond sale set to commence on Monday next week, in Botswana as demand continues to weaken.
“No one is expecting more than 10% or 15% of the goods to be sold,” an unnamed sightholder was quoted as saying by Rapaport News. 

Image credit: De Beers

“There’s no real point to keep goods to put into manufacturing a month from now.”
The Surat polishing industry recently closed due to the coronavirus pandemic and this was expected to leave buyers with few opportunities to cut or resell De Beers’ goods. 
“These are exceptional times, and I think they have taken a leading example in how to approach this,” another unnamed source said. 
“It’s been appreciated by the market. There’s no way you can force people to buy goods at times like this, when everything’s just frozen…”
Bloomberg reported last week that De Beers was planning to proceed with its March diamond sales although sightholders won’t be allowed to inspect goods in person.
Botswana, where De Beers conducts its 10 sales each year, introduced a travel ban on 18 high-risk countries to protect itself from the COVID-19 coronavirus.  
The countries include Belgium, India and China.  
De Beers was reportedly mulling options such as a “blind” sight, where buyers don’t inspect the goods they are purchasing in person. 
Another option was for the buyers to send local staff to the sale. 
De Beers raked in $355 million from its second rough diamond sale compared with $496 million, a year earlier and $551 million, the previous month.  
Group chief executive Bruce Cleaver said early this month that they recognised the impact of COVID-19 Coronavirus on customers focused on supplying the Chinese market.  
The group had to put in place additional targeted flexibility to enable customers to defer allocations of the relevant rough diamonds.  

Mathew Nyaungwa, Editor in Chief of the African Bureau, Rough&Polished