Angola eyes sparkling link-ups with China

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 14 February, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 14 February, 2012, 12:00am


Angola's government hopes to expand its nearly US$1 billion a year diamond business in partnership with Chinese firms.

'Our aim is that more Chinese companies will be willing to be part of our business - not just in selling diamonds, but also mining diamonds in Angola,' said Helder da Silva Milagre, the marketing director of government-controlled Angola Diamond Trading (Sodiam).

Sodiam's expansion plans include establishing new partnerships and joint ventures with major international firms in the polishing and jewellery industries.

The company, which is the exclusive trader of all diamonds produced in Angola, is 99 per cent owned by Endiama, a state-owned diamond miner.

Milagre forecast that Angola would produce 8.5 million carats worth US$1.15 billion this year.

'Hong Kong is an important trading centre for Angolan diamonds and a quarter of all our diamonds are routed through the city and re-exported elsewhere. Most end up in Dubai, China and Israel,' she said.

Once the diamonds arrive in Hong Kong, they are resold by Endiama's Hong Kong and mainland subsidiaries.

In 2010, Dubai accounted for the largest share of Angolan rough diamond exports by value at 40 per cent, followed by Israel at 34 per cent, and China at 11 per cent.

Last year, the value of Angola's rough diamond trade rose 21 per cent to US$976.2 million, although the production volume fell 9 per cent to 8.3 million carats.

Angola was the fourth-largest rough diamond producer by value in 2010, with Canada third, Russia second, and Botswana the largest, according to Sodiam.

Sodiam owns 48 per cent of APD, the sole diamond polishing factory in Angola, which employs some Chinese workers. It was set up in 1999 by the government to legitimise and control the African nation's diamond trade, said Milagre.

'During the civil war in the 1990s, unfortunately some parties were exporting Angolan diamonds not in accordance with Angolan law,' she said. 'The Angolan state wishes to assert sovereignty over diamond resources and increase tax revenues from diamond trading.'

About 80 per cent of the world's diamonds are polished in India and China, so most of the world's diamonds went through these two countries, said a South Asian diamond businessman who asked not to be named.

'India and China have a lot of billionaires, so they are big markets for diamonds,' said the businessman, who has an office in Shanghai and a jewellery factory in Panyu, Guangdong province.


The value of the Shanghai Diamond Exchange's transactions rose 58.4 per cent to this amount, in US dollars, in the first nine months of last year