Blockchain technology to power De Beers’ diamond production


Global diamond mining firm De Beers has launched a proprietary blockchain-powered platform to manage its diamond production and distribution.

The firm has long been at work on a blockchain system to trace, record and manage its diamond mining, production and distribution across the globe. The Tracr platform was first piloted and tested back in 2018, and the company has finally released the platform at scale to serve the wider diamond mining industry.

De Beers has already incorporated the system into its global operations and estimates that 25 percent of its diamond production by value is registered on Tracr for 2022’s first three Sights. In the diamond industry, a Sight is a collective term for a sale event and a respective lot of diamonds for purchase.

The platform will give diamond industry producers and retailers access to tamper-proof records of a diamond’s provenance. Sightholders, companies that are authorized bulk purchasers of rough diamonds, will benefit from the immutable record of diamond credentials which will, in turn, provide retailers with the added assurance of a diamond’s pedigree and origin.

De Beers has touted the performance of the platform to be able to scale to meet periods of high production. Tracr will be able to register one million diamonds per week on the platform, which is a major upgrade to centralized platforms that have been criticized for struggling with large volumes of data that historically cause bottlenecks in this process.

As with many blockchain-powered systems, Tracr will allow companies and users to control the permission, use and access to diamond data. This goes down to an individual level, with each user given their own distributed version of the platform, much like a traditional node operator in other blockchain networks.

Privacy and security are paramount to the ongoing operation of the diamond industry. Tracr’s blockchain-based system also ensures that every transaction on the platform is immutable, removing the threat of data tampering as a diamond moves through the value chain.

In 2021 Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC) and Bain & Company released their latest Diamond Industry report, which highlighted key trends for the industry and an outlook for the next decade.

A key takeaway was an increased focus on sustainability and social consumerism. The report indicated that consumers are far more conscious of environment preservation, conflict-free supply chains as well as the carbon footprint of mining operations.

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De Beers Group CEO Bruce Cleaver said that the launch of Tracr to the industry is a step in the right direction as consumer behavior changes to align with conservation and environmentally friendly operations.

Cleaver hopes to see the technology ensure greater confidence in natural diamonds and become a catalyst of ‘technological transformation that will enhance standards and raise expectations of what we are capable of providing to our end clients.’

Interestingly, South Africa was the only country to see an increase in rough diamond production in 2020 according to the AWDC and Bain report while Botswana, Angola and the Democratic Republic of Congo saw slight declines.

Botswana’s minister of minerals and energy Lefoko Moagi believes the Tracr system will help the industry continue to navigate economic uncertainty that has been driven by the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Confidence in diamond origin is extremely important and we look forward to seeing the roll out of this new programme delivering new benefits to the diamond industry and giving more assurance to consumers.”

Blockchain technology has already played a big role in the transformation of the global logistics and supply chain industry – with more than half of the companies listed in the Forbes Blockchain 50 adopting the technology to develop new-age systems and platforms.

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