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Botswana's Okavango first-half diamond sales up 23 percent

GABORONE, July 8 (Reuters) - Okavango Diamond Company’s (ODC) first-half sales rose 23 percent to $284 million and volumes jumped 35 percent to 1.75 million carats, boosted by a robust first quarter when inventories were run down, the Botswanan firm said on Friday.

State-owned ODC, which has held five tenders in 2016, is expected to sell 15 percent of the production of Debswana, a joint venture between Botswana’s government and Anglo American’s diamond unit De Beers.

“ODC saw a strong recovery in rough diamond prices during the first quarter of 2016 as market inventories were low and diamond manufacturers sought new rough for their factories following a better-than-expected U.S. retail season,” ODC Managing Director Toby Frears told Reuters.

“Since then prices have eased back as market demand has softened and underlying prices today remain below where they were at the beginning of 2015,” he said. (Editing by Ed Stoddard)

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