The Overseas Private Investment Corporation (Opic) has approved a US$25.2mn credit facility that will enable a diamond-cutting factory in Namibia to expand its operations, supporting the country’s effort to produce premium-quality diamonds.

A subsidiary of Lazare Kaplan International will use the credit facility to expand the operations of NamGem Diamond Manufacturing Company, Namibia’s flagship diamond-cutting and polishing factory, enabling NamGem to produce premium-sized and premium-quality diamonds and the country to realise its comparative advantage in the diamond cutting and polishing industry.

LKI , one of the world’s leading diamond cutting and polishing companies and a strategic partner in NamGem, is the US sponsor of the project.

The facility also represents fulfilment of a 2004 framework agreement by which Opic pledged to support LKI efforts to improve diamond production and sales in emerging markets throughout the world, particularly in Africa. The project is Opic’s second-ever in Namibia.

“By enabling Namibia to add value to its substantial diamond deposits, this project will enhance the country’s role in the industry significantly, imparting new expertise to the local workforce and thereby accelerating Namibia’s economic growth,” Opic president and CEO Robert Mosbacher, says.

“Opic is pleased to support a project with so many developmental benefits, especially since they coincide with Namibia’s stated developmental agenda.”

Speaking on behalf of the government of the Republic of Namibia, Erikki Nghimtina, minister of mines and energy, says: “Adding value to our diamonds, and building world-class economic partnerships, especially in the manufacturing sector, are priorities for the Namibian government. This initiative supports all these vital objectives and thus merits our full support and commendation.”

Leon Tempelsman, president of LKI, adds, “Namibia has been one of Africa’s consistent success stories since gaining independence in 1990, and LKI is pleased to be expanding its longstanding involvement in the country.

Our continuing investments reflect our strong belief in the prospects of NamGem as a modern diamond cutting and polishing enterprise and with the participation of OPIC those prospects can only brighten.”

Lazare Kaplan International is the only publicly traded diamond cutting and polishing company in the US.

LKI has manufacturing operations in Puerto Rico, Russia, Namibia, South Africa, and Belgium; and has extensive marketing and retail networks in the US, Japan, Pacific Rim and Europe. As a founding member of the United Nations Global Compact, LKI actively supports and complies with the US and international laws and regulations which prohibit the trade in conflict diamonds, prevent money laundering and combat the financing of terrorism.