Wednesday, July 6, 2022

Debswana introduces high technology for detecting diamonds in human body

As the landscape of the diamond industry is significantly changing with the move of the Diamond Trading International (DTCI) from London to Gaborone as well as introduction of diamond cutting centres, Debswana Diamond Company is introducing Scannex machines to ensure that the country does not lose diamonds in its mines.

Scannex is a low dosage x-ray machine from which employees will receive a maximum x-ray dosage of 1milli Sievert per year from the machine. The technology is said to be a proven, well established technology with comprehensive safety and assurance programmes that have been in use in South Africa and Namibia for more than 20 years.

Debswana Corporate Communications Manager, Rachel Mothibatsela, said that the current methods used are inefficient, as such not all stolen diamonds are currently being detected and recovered, hence the need to use Scannex machines to ensure that the country does not lose diamond revenues.
She added that one diamond stolen is one too many, given the amount of money one diamond is worth. Physical search methods that they currently use are not capable of detecting diamonds that are hidden within the human body.

“X-rays are the only known method capable of consistently detecting stolen diamonds concealed within the human body,” she said.

Mothibatsela observed that the growth in the industry will most likely introduce new threats to diamond security, such as syndicates, illegal diamond trafficking and organized criminals; hence the need to beef up security at Debswana mines.

She pointed out that high diamond recoveries have been reported at the mines and added that it is important to note that Botswana is heavily dependent on diamond revenues than any other country in the world.

“One lost diamond is a lost opportunity to send one more child to school; it is one lost opportunity to save another child’s life, in a remote area that does not have a hospital,” said Mothibatsela.

She also revealed that Botswana did not have an Act to regulate the use of such technology until 2006 and its regulations were only published in 2008.

She stated that everyone is exposed to natural radiation on a daily basis and added that natural radiation, which is also known as background radiation, varies between 1 ÔÇô 10 milli Sieverts per year depending on where one lives. “The world average is 2.4 milli Sieverts per year”.

“The Radiation Protection Inspectorate, which falls under the Ministry of Infrastructure, Science and Technology, regulates the use of radiation equipment in the country in accordance with the Radiation Protection Act of 2006 and the Radiation Protection Regulations of 2008,” she stated.

Mothibatsela emphasized that there are limits to the amount of HYPERLINK “” \t “_blank” radiation the public and radiation workers ( HYPERLINK “” \t “_blank” radiologic technologist, HYPERLINK “” \t “_blank” radiologist) may receive. She said it is set by the International Commission on Radiology Protection (ICRP) and added that ICRP standards are accepted internationally and have been adopted in the Botswana Radiation Protection Act.

“Consultations with both the Botswana Mine Workers Union and employees have been extensive. A joint task team made up of the union and management representatives was formed at the inception of the scannex project.┬á The BMWU and management each nominated four representatives into the joint task team that undertook benchmark visits to mines that use scannex,” she said.


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