Gaborone, Botswana — MININGREVIEW.COM — 15 June 2009 – Debswana Diamond Company (Pty) Ltd (Debswana) – an equal partnership between the Government of the Republic of Botswana and De Beers Centenary AG, (De Beers) – may produce less than half of its normal output this year, having suspended operations in February because of the world economic slowdown.
“We believe that we will be producing slightly less than half our normal output,” Debswana spokeswoman Esther Kanaimba said here in response to e-mailed questions. “Output at Debswana – which sells about 60% of the world’s uncut gems – may total about 13 million to 15 million carats,” she added.
Bloomberg News reports that jewellery sales are plunging as the global economic slowdown prompts consumers to curb spending on luxury goods. Tiffany & Company – the world’s second-largest luxury-jewellery retailer – posted a 62% drop in first-quarter profit after sales shrank. “Rough or uncut diamonds will fall after an artificial shortage in the market led to a temporary rebound,” said Charles Wyndham of PolishedPrices..
Debswana re-started production at most of its Botswana operations – which produce a fifth of world diamond supply – on 15 April. “We have seen an increase, albeit slight, in the sales of rough diamonds,” Kanaimba said. “It is our hope that this increase will continue and grow.”
She pointed out that Debswana’s Damtshaa and Orapa No. 2 operations would remain closed until the end of the year. De Beers holds 10 annual gem sales, known as sights, to selected customers from Belgium, Israel and other countries known for diamond-cutting.