Botswana slashes diamond output

2009-04-17 11:27

Gaborone - Botswana, the world's largest diamond producer, will slash its output by more than half this year due to plummeting demand for the gems, the main diamond company announced on Friday.

Debswana, jointly owned by the Botswana government and De Beers, said in a statement that the country was going to produce 15 million carats of diamonds, this year, against 33 million carats last year.

"As it stands now, the Diamond Trading Company Botswana have indicated that they might only be able to sell between 18 million carats and 20 million carats," corporate affairs manager Esther Kanaimba said.

"This year hence our decision to cut production to such levels as we also have some inventory left from the bad sales in December and November last year."

"If there are indications that demand will improve quickly, then we will increase production," she added.

Most diamond mining in Botswana has been suspended since December, due to a significant drop in world diamond sales, triggered by the global economic crisis.

Debswana resumed production at its three mines of Jwaneng, Orapa and Letlhakane this week.

However two other mines will remain closed for the rest of the year, the statement said.

The mining industry in Botswana has cut 4 500 jobs as global demand for the precious stones has plummeted.