Oct 16th, 2012
Local diamond cutters and business advocates are hoping governments will get behind the idea of turning Prince Albert and area into a world player in the diamond market.
At the city council meeting on Oct. 11, local diamond cutter and businessman Evert Botha went before city council to advocate for the creation of a friendly business environment that would attract the diamond industry.
With the potential for Shore Gold’s Star-Orion mine moving through the environmental assessment stage, Evert said now was the time to attract other aspects of the industry. That could include the inspecting and sale of rough stones, cutting, polishing and finally retail.
“It would make sense to take an item that could be $500 – $2,000 [per carat] in its rough state, manufacture it locally and turn it into $2,000 – $20,000 [per carat],” he said.
“For us as a region as well as a province it’s going to go a long way to increasing the GDP. But at the end of the day it’s about getting more people in Prince Albert, it’s about getting more jobs in the community and really just growing this province that we’ve all come to call home.”
Botha said the government should not only create a conducive business environment but also use its position to generate profit from the diamond endeavors.
“The government should get involved in the authentication, audit and certification and processing off all diamonds that are cut and polished here in Prince Albert,” he said.
Botha pointed out that if the province created a diamond royalty it would entice businesses to set up shop in and around Prince Albert. If the city got involved, it could only mean good things for business.
“It’ll really require the city, besides staking its claim and saying we’re ready for business, to come up with creative solutions, creative engagement with these companies on the world stage, at the trade fairs etc.,” he said.
“Given some time lines from the mine and approvals from the government, I think we could fill a few buildings and fill a few lots in the city.”
Botha didn’t come to the council meeting alone. The Prince Albert and District Chamber of Commerce made a showing to lend its support to the idea of a local diamond industry.
Past president Doug Patrick said supporting the local diamond industry had moved to a top priority for the chamber. He said it was important to relay that support to the city and the province as the voice of the business community.
“We want to be prepared to have our position, make our point so that Prince Albert and district gets a fair look at it and realizes some of the impacts on social programs and infrastructure,” he said.