Debswana Mining will close its Damtshaa diamond mine in 2021 for a period of three years, the president of the Botswana Mine Workers Union Joseph Tsimako told Reuters on Friday.
“The mine produces lower quality diamonds which makes it expensive to dig during this period when the market is depressed,” Tsimako said.
The mine is one of four operated by the company – equally owned by De Beers and the Botswana government – and has an average annual output of 500,000 carats, 2.5% of Debswana’s total production.
The company will also close for an indefinite period a processing plant at the Orapa mine, Tsimako told Reuters, adding that the union is now discussing the fate of up to 500 jobs at risk from the closures.
Debswana spokeswoman Agatha Sejoe said the company was still in discussions and would issue a press release on the matter in due course.
Debswana is a major contributor to the national economy of Botswana – providing the country with around two-thirds of its foreign exchange and contributes a fifth of its GDP. It is one of the largest private sector employers, with over 5200 employees. Debswana is also the biggest contributor to the De Beers Group rough diamond production.
The miner produced 12.3 million carats in the first nine months of 2020, down 29 percent from the same period of 2019.
De Beers has continued to implement a more flexible approach to sales during the year, as a result of restrictions triggered by the pandemic.
It has also cut prices of its stones, sometimes by almost 10% for larger diamonds, in an effort to spark sales.