Botswana’s rough diamond exports plunged 68% in the second quarter of the year, data published by the central bank showed on August 7, as the COVID-19 pandemic affected demand, and trade.
In a bid to curb the spread of the virus, Botswana closed its borders in March following the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommendations, preventing the international buyers from travelling to centres such as Mumbai, Antwerp and China who traditionally arrive to Gaborone ten times a year to buy diamonds.
Exports of diamonds from Debswana, a joint venture between Botswana and diamond mining giant De Beers, a unit of Anglo American, stood at $293 million in the second quarter of 2020, from $916 million in the preceding period.
Diamond mining company De Beers is likely to have to cut jobs, its chief executive said on Thursday July 30, as it outlined strategy for an overhaul of its business after the coronavirus pandemic crisis hit demand for jewellery.
De Beers earlier reported plunging earnings in the first half of 2020 as a drop in rough diamond sales and prices hurt margins.
Underlying earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) were just $2 million in the period, down from $518 million in the first half of last year.
De Beers CEO Bruce Cleaver told media official consultations with workers will begin on August 11. The business overhaul “is likely to lead to some job losses, but I can’t tell you at this point what that number will be”, he continued.
Cleaver said the process would last for three months and involve a review of the entire spectrum of activities from mining to rough sales, retail and the corporate centre, but exclude joint venture businesses in Botswana and Namibia where the miner employs 20,000 people.
Zimbabwe denounced a U.S. administration decision to curb imports of diamonds from its Marange field, branding the claim the country uses forced labor at the operations “a shameless lie.”
“Invoking the repulsive prospect of alleged forced labor is a new nomenclature for seeking to bar Zimbabwe’s diamonds from the international markets,” said in a statement issued by officials in Harare. “This move constitutes a grave and serious attack on Zimbabwe’s interests and is no less than a manifestation of undeclared sanctions.”