Page last updated at 11:23 GMT, Friday, 17 April 2009 12:23 UK

Gem producer Botswana cuts output

Diamonds
Debswana produces close to quarter of the world's diamond output

The world's largest diamond producer, Botswana, is to cut output by more than half this year, because of falling demand for gems.

Debswana, jointly owned by the Botswana government and De Beers, said it would produce 15 million carats of diamonds, against 33.6 million carats last year.

It came after state diamond trading firm DTCB said it could only sell between 18 and 20 million carats.

In February, Debswana had said it would close two mines for the rest of 2009.

"If there are indications that demand will improve quickly, then we will increase production," said DTCB corporate affairs manager Esther Kanaimba.

She said there was some inventory left from poor sales in November and December last year.

DTCB was set up in 2008 by Botswana's former president, Festus Mogae, in a move designed to boost local business and create jobs.

The mining industry in Botswana has cut 4,500 jobs as global demand for diamonds has fallen. Debswana produces close to a quarter of the world's output.



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