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Last Updated: Friday, 4 November 2005, 17:32 GMT
Angolan gem challenge to De Beers
Angolan President Eduardo dos Santos (l) with Lev Leviev
Mr Leviev (r) hopes his diamond polishing plant will create 600 jobs
A diamond polishing plant has opened in Angolan capital Luanda, which should lead to more gems being cut in Africa.

The plant will challenge the De Beers diamond monopoly, which sends stones to London, with most then going on to India for polishing.

It has been developed by Israeli Lev Leviev, who has opened a similar plant in Namibia, and has plans for opening another plant in Botswana.

The plant will cut and polish $20m (11.4m) of Angolan rough gems monthly.

'Self help'

The $10m factory was inaugurated by President Jose Eduardo dos Santos and employs about 600 workers.

The plant has the capacity to process about $30m of diamonds every month which means roughly 40% of all rough diamonds mined in Angola could be polished at the new plant before being sold to the international market.

Angola is the world's fifth-biggest diamond-producing country, but unemployment is rife, and Israeli diamond magnate Mr Leviev - born in Uzbekistan - said the plant was a chance to address the problem.

"There is a range of 30% to 40% unemployment in Africa," said Mr Leviev.

"And at the same time in the US and Europe there is a lot of talking and a lot of deliberations about how to help those poor people and how to give them money.

"The more simple solution is to help them help themselves and to invest in leaving here more raw materials and investing in the raw material on the ground," he added.

Angola's Ministry for Geology and Mines says the country produces close to $1bn worth of diamonds each year and hopes to double that in the next year.


SEE ALSO:
Threat to De Beers diamond sales
11 Oct 05 |  Business
African state seeks diamond gain
01 Sep 05 |  Business
De Beers in Angolan diamond deal
27 May 05 |  Business
Minister wants De Beers HQ move
07 Feb 05 |  Business


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