De Beers is using its mining sites in Botswana and its technology production center in the UK to help the fight against COVID-19.
Debswana, the company’s joint venture with Botswana, is making facilities available for the government to use as treatment or isolation centers, parent company Anglo American said Monday. It’s offering two of its ambulances, and compiling databases of retired medical staff from Debswana-run hospitals that serve the Jwaneng and Orapa mining communities.
The company is also working with health authorities to identify and support vulnerable households, giving the government money to buy supplies, and is donating essential items such as sanitizer. In total, De Beers will contribute $2.5 million across Botswana and Namibia to aid the COVID-19 response.
The outbreak threatens De Beers’ production in Botswana, as the country entered a lockdown last Thursday following the discovery of three coronavirus cases. Last year, the Jwaneng and Orapa deposits contributed 23.3 million carats of the company’s global output of 30.8 million carats. The miner hasn’t provided an update on whether it will scale back operations in the country.
Meanwhile, De Beers is making headbands in the UK for face shields worn by health-care staff by converting the 3D printers that usually develop parts for synthetic-diamond detection machines. The four printers at the site in Maidenhead, 30 miles west of London, will work 24 hours a day to produce around 25 to 30 of the headband components per day, it added.
At the Gahcho Kué mine in Canada’s Northwest Territories, De Beers is ensuring that employees from vulnerable communities can isolate themselves to avoid spreading infection, and has funded food packages for local residents. It’s also changed the shift patterns for mine workers to minimize travel.
“Society is facing the greatest threat to global health in a century,” said Anglo American CEO Mark Cutifani. “Safety is at the heart of all that we do at Anglo American, and we are doing all that we can to safeguard our people and their families from the spread of COVID-19, while also providing support to our host communities and countries where it’s most needed.”
Image: The entrance to the Jwaneng mine in Botswana. (Ben Perry/Armoury Films/De Beers)