Diamond Theft Prompts Search for 78-Carat Gem by Namibian Police

Sep 04, 2014 11:40 am ET

Sept. 4 (Bloomberg) -- Police in Namibia are searching for a 78-carat diamond after the stone went missing during a recent strike.

Namibia Diamond Trading Co., a joint venture between the southwest African nation and Anglo American Plc’s De Beers unit, has filed a case of theft with the police, Edwin Kanguatjivi, a police spokesman, said by phone from the capital, Windhoek, today.

While the value of the stone will depend on the quality and size of the polished stones that can be cut from it, a 78-carat diamond mined by BHP Billiton Ltd. in Canada sold for $6 million in 2011. The largest diamond produced this century was the 603- carat Lesotho Promise, unearthed at Gem Diamonds Ltd.’s Letseng mine in Lesotho.

Namdeb’s production rose 6 percent to 1.76 million carats in 2013, with two-thirds of that coming from marine mining operations. The country is the world’s largest producer of marine diamonds. Namibian diamond production in 2013 was worth $1.36 billion, according to the Kimberley Process. Botswana is the the world’s biggest diamond producer.

More than 1,500 Mineworkers Union of Namibia members went on strike on Aug. 2 after rejecting the government’s offer of a 10 percent wage increase.

“We are not commenting on this issue as it will interfere with investigations,” Namdeb spokeswoman Pauline Thomas said.