Following the closure earlier this month of De Beers Snap Lake diamond mine in Canada, Debswana’s Damtshaa mine in Botswana, co-owned by De Beers and the government of Botswana, is heading the same way from January 1.
De Beers said in a statement to Creamer Media’s Mining Weekly Online that Damtshaa would be placed on care and maintenance and the Orapa Mine Plant 1 would be operated at a reduced level of production.
As a result of the diamond industry’s abnormally high pipeline inventories of polished diamonds and resulting lower demand for rough diamonds, Debswana had revised down its production for 2016 to 20-million carats to match expected levels of demand for rough.
That would be achieved by producing more from Botswana’s high-value, low-cost Jwaneng mine and less from Botswana’s grouping of Orapa, Letlhakane and Damtshaa Mines (OLDM).
Jwaneng Mine would produce around 12-million carats while the OLDM grouping would produce around eight-million carats.
To achieve the OLDM reduction, Damtshaa would be closed and Orapa Mine Plant 1’s output lowered to one million carats while maintaining upswing readiness.
A Debswana spokesperson said the company produced 24-million carats in 2014, with no final production figure available yet for total 2015 production.
Botswana’s Southern Times newspaper reported that Damtshaa’s closure and Orapa Plant 1’s reduced production level was expected to continue for the next three years.
Four small diamond pipes in an area 20 km east of the Orapa kimberlite pipe make up the Damtshaa mine, where 303 319 carats were recovered in 2014, while the conventional openpit Orapa, situated 240 km west of Francistown, is currently mining at a depth of 250 m, according to the Debswana website.
The Southern Times reported that sluggish market sentiment had seen sales for both of Debswana’s clients – De Beers and the State-run Okavango Diamond Company – fall by more than 20% in the first half of 2015.
Debswana said that an employee redeployment and job matching plan would be done in consultation with the Botswana Mine Workers Union, with no more than 250 jobs likely to be impacted.
Earlier this month in Canada, De Beers laid off 434 employees at its wholly-owned Snap Lake mine.
De Beers Canada’s 51%-owned Gahcho Kué diamond-mine-in-the-making absorbed about 100 former Snap Lake employees, who have been redeployed to the 80%-complete and on-budget opencast project that is expected to be profitable with the help of weak local Canadian currency, low diesel prices and a general fall in operating cost items.
Source: Mining Weekly