De Beers will reduce its worker head count at its sole diamond mine in South Africa by around 75% in response to the country’s measures to curb the spread of the coronavirus, parent company Anglo American said Friday.
The move at its Venetia deposit in the Limpopo province follows consultations Anglo American held with the government, it noted. The group is also scaling back its workforce and activities at its platinum, coal and iron mines in South Africa.
The measures are to protect health while enabling the continued provision of essential services to local communities, security, and supply of essential raw materials to customers, the group noted. They are also designed to enable a speedy return to normal operations once the restrictions are over.
De Beers is in the middle of a $2 billion expansion of Venetia to underground mining that will extend its lifespan to 2046. The site has been the company’s only mine in South Africa since it shut Voorspoed in 2018. Output fell 55% to 1.9 million carats in 2019 as the transition from open-pit operations led to a production lull.
South Africa entered a national lockdown on Thursday. As of Saturday, the country had 1,170 reported cases of COVID-19 and two deaths, according to the World Health Organization.
Image: The Venetia mine, South Africa. (Ben Perry/Armoury Films/De Beers)