Miner of Biggest Diamonds Buys Blockchain Firm as CEO Exits

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Miner of Biggest Diamonds Buys Blockchain Firm as CEO Exits

The mining company that found the

biggest
diamond in more than a century has joined the race to use blockchain technology to guarantee the quality and ethics of gem supplies.

Lucara Diamond Corp., which in 2016 discovered a 1,109-carat stone,

bought
the operator of a digital platform selling rough diamonds, as well as blockchain technology that seeks to track gems through the industry’s long and often opaque supply chain.

The Vancouver-based miner joins much larger rivals


De Beers
and Russia’s


Alrosa PJSC
in exploring blockchain tech. De Beers

said
last month it was piloting a virtual ledger to reassure buyers that stones are genuine and aren’t funding armed conflicts. Such systems may also guard banks against fraud in a secrecy-cloaked industry, where loans are often based on paper invoices.

Lucara, which currently operates one mine in Botswana famous for its big stones, agreed to pay about $29 million in stock to buy Clara Diamond Solutions Corp. As well as blockchain, Clara has a platform allowing manufacturers to buy rough diamonds tailored for a specific polished outcome.

The miner, which also announced the retirement of Chief Executive Officer William Lamb, says it will use the platform to sell some of its own output in coming months before expanding to third-party production. De Beers also plans to open its blockchain platform to others.

Lamb steps down after 10 years and will be replaced by Eira Thomas, well known in the Canadian industry, and one of Lucara’s co-founders.

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