Business: Trucks Rolling Again at Botswana's Diamond Mines
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Diamond mining restarted today at the world’s richest diamond mines, as workers at Debswana (a joint venture between the Government of the Republic of Botswana and De Beers) went back to work across Botswana, as a 50-day pause in production came to an end.
Jwaneng, Orapa and Letlhakane Mines restarted operations today with some 5,800 people returning to work. Production had been suspended at the mines as a result of reduced demand for rough diamonds from the DTC Sightholders, brought about by the global economic crisis. Production at the fourth and smallest mine, Damtshaa, and at Orapa No.2 Plant, will remain suspended until the end of 2009.
“The first quarter of 2009 was a challenging time. The men and women that work for Debswana responded swiftly to the global downturn, enabling the company to withstand the economic crisis. This accomplishment is all the more meaningful when considering the fact that, in the long term, with future growth in emerging markets, demand is likely to significantly outpace what is forecast to be lower levels of diamond supply for many years to come, said Stephen Lussier, Chairman of De Beers Botswana.
Mr. Lussier continued, “The economic downturn has impacted all stages of the diamond pipeline, and as retailers have lowered their level of purchasing it has taken time for inventory to work through the pipeline leading to a disproportionately negative knock-on affect on production. We have begun to see signs of improvement in the market and expect this to continue as the year unfolds.”
During the pause in production, Debswana employees remained on full pay, and the company carried out maintenance work on its major assets to ensure the mines run at an optimal level as demand begins to recover.
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