The diamond market post pandemic, the meaning of being the first female in the mining industry, and the future of sustainability. All this by Naseem Lahri, Managing Director of Lucara Diamond
Can you give us an overview of the diamond market pre and post pandemic? The market has changed considerably. Lucara is a very agile organisation, and as we saw the pandemic our strategies were amended very quickly to manage our risks, especially in generating a cashflow. We went into the pandemic with a strong balance sheet but needed to preserve cash and protect our income. Lucara, being a very innovative and agile company, made decisions to manage the risk of lower revenue due to the pandemic. Lucara has now 3 sales channels, and only two of the three existed prior to the pandemic. As a consequence of this, the sales model is now split into the following areas: sales via a tender platform; online sales through CLARA; sale of polished diamonds. This has supported the company to mitigate the revenue risk as a result of the pandemic.
What has changed in the last decade in approaching the diamond market? Firstly, the consumers want to know how the diamonds are mined and how they benefit the communities that work in. Then, there is the provenance, which is a priority for the consumer. Lucara owns an online sales platform that tracks it through blockchain. During the lockdown this is how we were selling our diamonds, as people could purchase rough diamonds online without any distruption in supply. Looking at where we are now, this is a revolutionary sales platform.
Which are Lucara's main areas of activity to support local communities? Lucara’s aim is to contribute to sustainable projects that encourage diversity in the economy, and also ensure that the communities are able to sustain themselves after the mine no longer exists. We have focused, for example, on food security by setting up an integrated agricultural farm supporting the community of Mokhubilo. This community has been uplifted in many ways due to the farm. As a result, the area experienced reduced cases of malnutrition and eleviated unemployment in the area. Lucara works closely with the community to ensure it meets its requirements, and it is also guided by the United Nations sustainable development goals.
What does it mean for a woman to manage a mining company? At first it was quite intimidating. As much as I was used to being the only female in the boardroom, this was a big position where people were looking to see what I could do differently. The support from the Lucara Diamond side was exceptional. As I took on the role and started running with the job at hand, my purpose was clear and I understood what needed to be done. The results were automatically felt. Due to this, my job became easier and the industry respected me for the work I was doing not because I was a woman but because the results were showing and impactful. I believe I was intimidated not because the industry didn't accept a woman, but because I was too hard on myself and wanted things to be perfect.