LAC DE GRAS, Northwest Territories Israel-based DGI GROUP OF COMPANIES is loading its war chest with US$2 billion to purchase diamond mines including Ekati, Canada's first diamond producer. The consortium assembled by DGI Group wants to invest in diamond mines and related diamond interests around the world.
The DGI Group first expressed interest in acquiring the Ekati mine in a letter to owner BHP BILLITON in June 2003. At that time, BHP Billiton was not seeking a purchaser. Rumours have persisted that there is support for a sale of Ekati within senior management at BHP Billiton, so the DGI Group sent another letter expressing its interest, this time to BHP Billiton chairman, Don Argus, in March 2004.
The Ekati mine produces about 4% of the world's diamond by weight and 6% by volume. To an international mineral conglomerate like BHP Billiton, the income generated by its diamond mining in Canada is small potatoes compared with its global income. In the year ending June 30, 2003, the company amassed a pre-tax profit of US$2.925 billion on a turnover of US$17.506 billion. Its diamond and specialty products division (which includes titanium) generated a turnover of $1.485 billion and a pre-tax profit of US$299 million, roughly 10% of the corporate profit.
The DGI Group, with offices throughout the world, is engaged in all aspects of diamond production, including mining and wholesale distribution of rough and polished diamonds.
A member of the DGI Group, EMAXON INTERNATIONAL FINANCE of Montreal, began last year to market diamonds from the Democratic Republic of Congo. The contract has raised questions about how effective the Kimberley Process is in tracking "blood" or "conflict" diamonds.