De Beers to Halt Work at Diamond Mines

Firm last suspended production during the Great Depression
By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 24, 2009 2:19 PM CST
An open pit is seen at a Debswana mine, a joint venture between De Beers and Botswana's government, in Jwaneng, Botswana, Monday March 17, 2008.   (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe)
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(Newser) – De Beers has temporarily shut down its diamond mines in Botswana due to low demand for the precious stones, the Telegraph reports. The firm’s Botswana mines account for half of De Beers’ output, and about a fifth of diamond production worldwide. De Beers was not able to sell a single diamond from Botswana in November and sold only very few in the two months after.

Of the four mines operated by Debswana, a joint venture between De Beers and the Botswana government, two will suspend work through the year. Two others, including Jwaneng, the world’s most-valuable diamond mine, could continue production in mid-April. De Beers noted that the last time it had suspended operations completely at any mine was during the Great Depression.
(Read more diamond stories.)