London, England — MININGREVIEW.COM — 15 April 2009 – The De Beers Group – the world’s largest diamond producer – has announced that production at most of its Botswana operations is being resumed as of today, amid steadily increasing sales since output was suspended in February because of the global economic slowdown.
In an e-mailed response to queries, De Beers spokeswoman Lynette Gould said the company had begun to see some pick-up in demand for certain types of goods, and steadily increasing sales at sights. The company – which sells about 60% of the world’s uncut gems – holds 10 annual sales, known as sights, to selected customers from Belgium, Israel and other countries known for diamond-cutting.
De Beers – which has the Debswana joint venture with the Botswana government – suspended operations in the country in February and said it would borrow US$500 million (R4.5 billion) from shareholders. The Botswana operations produce a fifth of world diamond supply.
“Production will not be re-started at the De Beers Damtshaa and Orapa No. 2 operations, run in partnership with the government of Botswana,” said Gould, “and output in the country will drop about 40 % this year.”
The company’s Botswana venture produced 32.3 million carats of diamonds in 2008.