The value of rough diamonds exports plunged by 20 percent last year to P22.5 billion from P28 billion in 2011 as production and prices softened due to uncertainty in the global economy.
According to exports data released by the
Bank of Botswana (BoB) recently, rough diamond exports in Pula terms
stood at P1.3 billion in December from P1.5 billion in the previous
month.Diamond exports, which have traditionally been the chief foreign
currency earner, were affected by a 12 percent drop in prices in 2012,
while Debswana production also fell by the same margin last year.
The 2012 exports figure is however higher than the P18.8 billion
raked in from diamonds exports in 2010 and P13.7 billion in the
recession year of 2009. According to the December BoB financial
statistics report, the country's budding cutting and polishing industry
also contributed significantly to foreign currency receipts in the year
with polished diamonds raking in P4.94 billion in the first 11 months of
the year compared to P4.8 billion in the whole of 2011.
The burgeoning diamond cutting and polishing industry, which now has
21 companies operating in the country, has also contributed to the
reduction of Botswana's trade deficit.From a high of 34 million carats
in 2007, diamond production has plateaued in the last few years as
Debswana caps production to match weakening market conditions, a
development that has also slowed the growth of the economy. Botswana's
economy was forecast to grow at a slower rate of 6.1 percent last year
from eight percent in 2011 due to lower output from the mining sector,
particularly the diamond industry.
Recently released figures from Statistics Botswana show that
year-on-year growth, over the 12 months to September, fell slightly to
7.7 percent from 8.0 percent in the second quarter largely reflecting
reduced growth in the mining sector, which was down to minus 12.5
percent from minus 7.7 percent over the year to June 2012.While Debswana
lost output in the third quarter due to a slope failure at Jwaneng, the
company ramped up production by 26 percent in the fourth quarter to 5.5
million carats from 4.3 million carats. Debswana had produced 4.9
million carats and 5.3 million in the first and second quarter of the
The resumption and subsequent ramping up of production at Jwaneng
Mine lifted the output of global mining giant, De Beers in the fourth
quarter of 2012 by 24 percent. However on an annual basis, De Beers'
production fell by 11 percent to 27.8 million carats in 2012. The
Jwaneng Mine traditionally supplies about 70 percent to Debswana's
production. Debswana contributes the same percentage to parent company,
De Beers' output.