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Botswana’s Debswana expects to increase diamond output by 38% in 2021

GABORONE – Diamond producer Debswana aims to increase output by 38% this year to pre-pandemic levels of 23-million carats, a company official said on Friday, as the global diamond market recovers with the easing of travel restrictions and jewellers reopen.

Jointly owned by Anglo American unit De Beers and the Botswana government, Debswana cut production by 29% to 16.6-million carats in 2020 as the Covid-19 pandemic hurt demand and global travel restrictions affected trading.

Debswana produces almost all of the southern African nation’s diamonds.

Botswana closed its borders for eight months last year to curb the spread of the coronavirus, locking out international buyers from centres such as Mumbai, Antwerp and China who usually travel to Gaborone regularly to view and buy diamonds.

“The projected production figure for 2021 is 23-million carats,” Debswana corporate affairs manager Agatha Sejoe told Reuters.

De Beers, which gets on average 70% of its supply from Botswana, says it plans to ramp up production from 25-million carats in 2020 to a guidance of 32-million to 34-million carats this year.

De Beers’ first rough diamond sale of the year in January generated $650-million, an 18% rise year-on-year and the highest amount since 2018, as cutting and polishing firms restocked after the Christmas and Chinese New Year holiday season.

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