Lucara Diamond ends sales deal with trader HB Antwerp

By Brian Benza

GABORONE (Reuters) – Canada’s Lucara Diamond said on Thursday it had ended its gem sales agreement with HB Trading BV, a unit of HB Antwerp, in a move that could affect a deal between the Belgian trader and the government of Botswana.

“Lucara exercised its right to terminate the agreement following a material breach of financial commitments by HB,” the Toronto-listed miner said in a statement, without giving details.

HB was not immediately available to comment.

The two parties first entered into a diamond sales agreement in 2020, which was extended for 10 years in 2022. Under the deal, HB would buy stones of 10 carat quality and above from the Toronto-listed Lucara’s Karowe Mine in central Botswana at prices based on the estimated polished value of each diamond.

In March, the government of Botswana, the world’s No. 1 diamond producer by value, said it had agreed to buy a 24% stake in HB Antwerp. As part of the deal, state-owned Okavango Diamond Company would supply HB with an undisclosed quantity of rough diamonds for five years.

The government did not immediately respond to a request for comment on whether that deal might be affected by Lucara’s move.

HB Antwerp has recently been rocked by the removal of co-founder Oded Mansori from management following differences over strategy. Mansori, who co-founded HB Antwerp in 2020 with partners Shai de Toledo and Rafael Papismedov, said he was taking them to court over his removal.

Lucara, which expects rough diamond output between 395,000 carats and 425,000 carats and revenue up to $230 million this year from Karowe, said it would continue to sell its stones through its Clara diamond platform, traditional tenders and “other value-added mechanisms”.

(Reporting by Brian Benza; Writing by Nelson Banya; Editing by Mark Potter)