Starting November 14, 350,000 carats of rough Congolese diamonds worth an estimated $6 million will go on tender in Antwerp, as the DRC and Antwerp take a first major step toward implementing a MoU cooperation agreement signed in September to facilitate access for DRC miners to Antwerp’s transparent diamond market, and in particular its tender houses. The complete parcel will contain approximately 15% gem-quality goods and 85% industrial-grade diamonds, with closing bids on November 20.
The tender is being organized by trading company Samir Gems, headquartered in Antwerp, and will feature rough stones mined by Sacim (the Anhui-Congo Mining Investment Corporation) – a 50/50 joint venture between the Congolese State and Chinese investors. The tender will be held at the Antwerp Diamond Tender Facility located at the Antwerp World Diamond Centre, which is facilitating the tender. Bidding, which closes on November 20, will take place online via Lemon Technologies’ tender platform.
H.E. Félix Tshisekedi, President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), visited the Antwerp diamond industry last September in the context of a broader mission to improve the relationship between Belgium and the DRC and attract investment to his country. Since ascending to the presidency in January of this year, President Tshisekedi has made the revival of diamond mining in the Kasai region of the DRC, and ultimately the use of the country’s resources to the benefit of the people a top priority. While in Antwerp, he explained that he intends to focus his mining policy on greater transparency and compliance with international best practices.
It is this line of thinking that led the miner, Sacim, to choose Samir Gems to organize its first open tender in Antwerp. Anjal Bhansali, Managing Director of Samir Gems, told us, “We have been in Antwerp for generations and pride ourselves on the transparent way we conduct our business. That is why we obtained this tender.” He noted it has been several years since a DRC company has held a tender in Antwerp, but that his customers are accustomed to coming to Belgium and are “happy this one is coming to Antwerp.” He added that he “has confidence in a smooth tender, which will hopefully lead to future tenders in Antwerp.” Samir Gems anticipates anywhere from 100 to 200 clients to participate in the tender.
The Democratic Republic of the Congo is the world’s fourth largest rough-diamond producer in terms of volume and the 10th largest in terms of value. According to official statistics from the Kimberley Process, in 2018 the DRC had an output of 16.4 million carats valued at over $136 million, but the average price per carat the country receives for its diamonds has fallen by more than 50% in the past 15 years, currently sitting at just over $8 per carat, the lowest in the world. In recent years, Antwerp’s direct imports of rough diamonds from the DRC has steadily declined, falling to 6.5 million carats worth $6.5 million in 2018.