Anglo's Diamond Riches Could Be Key If Agarwal Stake Grows
Much of the focus around Indian mining tycoon Anil Agarwal’s pursuit of Anglo American Plc has been the company’s South African operations. But Botswana could be similarly important.
Botswana is the source of about two-thirds of Anglo’s diamonds and the country is a major stakeholder in De Beers, the world’s biggest gem producer. There are few countries as dependent on a single commodity as Botswana is with diamonds and the nation is highly protective of the industry.
So far Botswana appears to be pretty sanguine about Agarwal’s position in Anglo. But it’ll be worth watching if the billionaire continues raising his stake because there’s a provision in Botswana’s agreement with Anglo that allows the nation to renegotiate if De Beers’s ownership changes.
“Diamonds are a major economic driver for Botswana, so it’s important for any owner to manage diamond assets in a long-term sustainable way,” said Anish Aggarwal, a partner at diamond industry consultant Gemdax in Antwerp.
Read more: Mining’s Biggest Mystery Is What Agarwal Plans to Do With Anglo
Agarwal has spoken in the past about wanting to use his stake in Anglo to increase India’s role in the diamond industry, where about 90 percent of the gems are polished and cut.
“We’re in partnership with Anglo at De Beers level and not group level,” said Sadique Kebonang, the minerals minister for Botswana. “While we are aware of the latest developments, we regard them as not important to our arrangement.”
By Thomas Biesheuvel and Mbongeni Mguni