Most countries in Africa that produce diamonds have seen the economic growth this industry can bring. Diamond mining has played a key role in the economic growth of many African countries. As one of the world’s most valuable commodities, diamonds are also one of its rarest minerals.
Since the demand for natural diamonds continues to rise every year, and supply remains relatively scarce, this has led to an increase in the value of diamonds and subsequently made diamond mining a lucrative business.
However, when it comes to diamond production, not all African countries are equal. While there are plenty of small-scale artisanal miners across the continent, only a select few African countries produce enough diamonds to be considered major players in the global market. With that said, let’s take a look at the top 5 countries in Africa that produce diamonds.
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Top 5 Countries in Africa that Produce Diamonds
Botswana is widely considered to be one of the most successful countries in Africa that produce diamonds. In fact, the tiny Southern African country accounts for nearly a third of all diamonds mined globally.
With an annual production of around 17 million carats, Botswana has the capacity to produce more diamonds (21.2%) than the rest of the world’s producers, after Russia (30.5%).
That said, diamond mining in Botswana is largely controlled by a single company, De Beers, which co-owns Debswana (the main diamond mining firm in the country) with the Botswana government. The mine employs around 8,000 individuals from the country’s working population and accounts for roughly 80% of its exports.
As a result, De Beers holds a dominant position in the country’s economy and is expected to remain in control of the diamond mining industry in Botswana for the foreseeable future.
Angola is the second-largest diamond producer in Africa. However, the country’s position in the diamond industry took a hit a few decades ago when the civil war broke out.
The majority of Angola’s diamonds are mined in the country’s Cuango River valley, which is located in the southwest region of the country.
Although only about 80% of the diamonds produced in Angola are of gem-quality, the country is still considered a significant diamond exporter.
While Angola used to be the world’s fourth largest producer of diamonds in the 1970s, it has since slipped to second place in Africa, behind Botswana. Currently, Angola is estimated to produce around 7.7 million carats per year.
However, the diamonds produced in Angola represent only a small portion of the overall global diamond production, as Angola only accounts for around 11.3% of the world’s total diamond mined annually.
Like Botswana, South Africa is primarily known for its diamonds. In fact, many people believe that South Africa’s diamond industry has been more profitable than the country’s gold-mining industry since the 1870s.
Since then, South Africa has kept up a steady rate of diamond production, but the country’s diamond mining industry has been struggling in recent years due to political corruption, a drop in global demand, and falling diamond prices.
Despite these challenges, South Africa’s diamond-producing regions remain among the most profitable in the world. Areas like Kimberley, Venetia, and Finsch are home to a majority of the country’s diamond mines, though production is relatively low compared to other African countries like Botswana.
South Africa accounts for 10.2% of diamonds mined globally, and produces around 8.5 million carats of diamonds annually.
Republic of Congo
While not as famous as its neighbor, the Republic of Congo has been a major source of diamonds since the 1920s.
The Republic of Congo is the fourth-largest diamond producer in Africa, accounting for around 4.9% of the world’s total diamond production. Although the country has been producing diamonds for centuries, the industry only started to flourish in the 1920s.
Congo’s two biggest mines are the Bakwanga Diamond Mine and the Forminière Diamond Mine. Unfortunately, Congo has lost a lot of its wealth because of corruption, political turmoil, and genocide. The diamonds mined there are often called “blood diamonds,” and for this reason, diamond companies are hesitant to invest in the country.
Still, the country produces around 12.7 million carats of diamonds annually as of 2020 and hopes to improve its diamond mining processes so as to attract more investors.
When we look at Africa’s top diamond producers, the Republic of Namibia is often left of the list. Although Namibia doesn’t produce as many diamonds as its southern counterparts, it is still a significant diamond producer.
In fact, Namibia is responsible for producing roughly 2.5% of the world’s diamonds, which makes it the fifth largest diamond producer in Africa.
With its Orange River Diamond Mines and Alexander Bay Marine Mining, both covered in a partnership between the Namibian government and De Beers under Namdeb Diamond Corporation, this country produces around 1.5 million carats of diamonds annually, with mining in general accounting for around 12.5% of the country’s GDP.
The Dark Side of Diamond Mining
As we’ve seen, diamond mining has had a significant impact on the economies and cultures of many countries in Africa that produce diamonds. However, it has also put considerable pressure on the environment in these areas, particularly in terms of water pollution.
This is due to the fact that diamonds are naturally produced in extremely rare rock formations known as kimberlite.
While these kimberlite formations are situated in areas where fresh groundwater can be found, they are often found very far below the surface. As a result, many diamond mines utilize a process known as “deep underground mining” to extract the diamonds from the ground.
While this process is effective, it also leads to a considerable amount of water pollution in the areas surrounding the diamond mines.
Economic impact of mining in Africa
While the above mentioned pollution is certainly a cause for concern, it is important to note that diamond mining does have some positive economic impacts.
First and foremost, diamond mining has helped to transform many African countries from poverty-stricken regions into economic powerhouses.
Diamond mining has also brought considerable technological advancements to many African countries, making it easier to detect valuable resources in the ground.
Moreover, diamond mining in Africa has allowed the indigenous communities in these areas to earn a living by working in the mining industry.
The future of diamond mining amongst countries in Africa that produce diamonds remains uncertain. Even though the diamond industry has helped many African countries improve their economies and technology, it has also put a lot of pressure on the environment in these places.
The good news is that the diamond industry has brought many benefits to African countries.
While it is unclear what the future of diamond mining in Africa looks like, one thing is for certain: diamonds will always be an essential part of the African economy.