February 24, 2009

De Beers suspends digging for diamonds

Diamond producer De Beers said it would suspend work at several mines in Botswana amid a global recession that has weakened demand.

The joint venture Debswana, a partnership of De Beers and the Botswana government, will suspend production at two mines for the rest of the year. Two other mines, including Jwaneng, the world's most productive diamond mine, will halt production until mid-April, The Daily Telegraph reported Tuesday.

Mining had already been halted since December, with 5,500 miners focused on maintenance tasks, the newspaper said.

With the suspended operations, thousands will be sent home with full pay. About 600 jobs would be cut, the company said.

The move could will have a severe impact on the country's economy. Diamond production makes up 30 percent of the government's revenues, the Telegraph said.