SADC diamond mining loses sparkle
from ODIRILE TOTENG in Gaborone, Botswana
GABORONE, (CAJ News) – STAKEHOLDERS in the diamond mining sector in Southern Africa will meet in the Botswana capital city of Gaborone in March on the back of incessant job losses.
Botswana, one of the major mining countries in the region and before 2015 highest producer of diamonds by value in the world , will on March 14 -17 host the Botswana Mining Conference Indaba dubbed, “Diamonds still Sparkling 2016.”
Ahead of the event however, the Mining Industry Association of Southern Africa (MIASA) employees, companies, industry experts and governments are concerned with the rate of job losses in the sector.
This follows the combined 70 000 job loses in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region in the mining sector in 2015 due to the falling commodity prices.
More jobs are set to be lost as company struggle to break even.
“A further 50 000 employees face the risk of losing their jobs if something drastic is not done urgently,” said MIASA, a regional chamber of mines representing eight SADC countries comprising the host nation Botswana, Democratic Republic of Congo, Madagascar, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
“MIASA notes with concern, the large scale retrenchments in the region as a consequence of depressed commodity prices on international markets. The mining industry has lost approximately 70 000 jobs across all commodities.”
MIASA is an association of Chambers of Mines in the SADC region established for the sole purpose of lobbying governments and other key stakeholders in Africa on policy and legislation on behalf of its member companies.
It meets twice a year to share leading practice on policy and legislation from its various mining jurisdictions and to further address common challenges and find resolutions that will have lasting impact on the mining industry.
Its upcoming conference is the sixth in the series –“Diamonds still Sparkling.”
It targets the full spectrum of the diamond pipeline from exploration through to sales and marketing.
The last conference was held in 2013.
Meanwhile, ahead of the conference on diamond mining, Botswana Chamber of Mines Chief Executive Officer, Charles Siwawa, bemoaned such job losses.
The diamond industry has not been spared the upheavals characterising international markets.
Apart from the job losses, market prices for diamonds are in a five-year decline, causing havoc for diamond producers.
Leading producers of the precious stone, Petra Diamonds reported a 10 percent sales slump in the first half of 2015 to $425 million, while De Beers reported a collapse of more than 20 percent collapse in profits to $360 million during the period.
Diamond prices have dropped about 12 percent over the past five years.
This has been attributed to falling demand in China.
Last year, Russia overtook Botswana as the world’s top diamond producer.
A closure of shafts and job losses have been projected as a result of waning demand.
In Angola, another producer, the sale of diamonds has slumped by nearly 20 percent over recent months, also linked to a decline in demand.
Fellow SADC member, Zimbabwe has also not been spared by the falling international prices of the diamond mineral in Marange, located some 300km at the eastern border-post of Manicaland province near Mozambique, resulting in several companies reducing costs and streamlining non-core business units.
Nevertheless, next month’s diamond conference will be held at the Gaborone International Convention Centre.
Experts drawn from all sub sectors in the industry will attend.
The conference, which is organised by Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy (SAIMM), seeks to provide a forum for the dissemination of information relating to the latest tools and techniques applicable to the diamond mining industry.
Among others, this will consider all stages of the value chain, from exploration through mine design, drill and blast, production, and processing, to cutting, marketing and sales.
The mining conference is set to deliberate on geology and exploration, mine expansion projects, mining, metallurgical and beneficiation technology, rough diamond sales and marketing, cutting and polishing, financial services and industry analysis, industry governance and legislation update as well as mine specific case studies.
– CAJ News
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