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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Russian Diamond Producer Opens First Office in Europe

Alrosa, which produces almost all of Russia's diamonds, opened its first office in Europe to boost cooperation with European diamond cutters, the company said.

The office, in Antwerp, Belgium, is the second it opened outside Russia this year. The first one was in Angola, where Alrosa owns 32 percent of local diamond producer Katoka, said Yelena Nikiforova, spokeswoman of the company.

"By opening up an office in Belgium, a recognized center of the world diamond trade, Alrosa makes one more step to integrate the Russian diamond industry into the world's one," the company president, Vyacheslav Shtyrov, said in a statement.

Alrosa produces about a quarter of the world's diamonds and exports almost two-thirds of its production, mainly through De Beers/Centenary AG, the world's biggest miner and marketer of diamonds.

Alrosa said it may also sell uncut diamonds through the Antwerp office as long as any sale "doesn't conflict with existing obligations, in particular a trade agreement with De Beers."

Under the agreement, which expires at the end of this year, Alrosa sells a minimum of $550 million worth of diamonds annually to De Beers. Last month, Shtyrov said the company plans to sell a total of $1.43 billion worth of diamonds this year on the understanding that De Beers will buy all diamonds Alrosa offers.

Only the Russian government can negotiate a new contract with De Beers on behalf of Alrosa. The Russian government and the government of Yakutia-Sakha, an autonomous republic in eastern Siberia, are the two principal shareholders of Alrosa.