Jwaneng diamond mine, the biggest single contributor to Debswana’s carat output, is expected to be back at its production capacity by 2012 as the diamond industry returns to its peak.
The mine, like the rest of Debswana’s operations, had to scale down production last year for a few months in a bid to save cash with workers sent on leave although they were not retrenched.
“All our employees are now back at work; we wanted to save some jobs and prepare for the market upturn,” Balisi Bonyongo, Jwaneng mine General Manager, said this week.
Compared with 2008, production at the mine was down 33% in 2009, but Bonyongo said there are green shoots of recovery although slow.
“We are not out of the woods yet,” he said, adding that in 2010, the mine will be at 80% of its capacity and 90% in 2011.
“Only in 2012, we will be back to our capacity. The world recovery will dictate which direction to take. Debswana will continue to run with the current staff compliment,” he said.
Debswana last year responded swiftly by shutting down its mines hence saving P120 million on its way.
Jwaneng mine accounts to between 60 -70 percent of Debswana earnings with the expectation that it will continue dominating going forward.
Last year, workers at the Debswana mines were demanded to go on leave during the shut-down period but of which they were paid.
“We will weather the storm and come out stronger,” said Bonyongo. “If we do not wisen up during this crisis, we will never be wise.”
The only workers who did not go on forced leave were those providing essential services in areas such as hospitals, schools, training centers at Orapa and Lethakane mines, group projects and water, power and fire services.
Despite the recession that nearly crippled the mining township, Jwaneng continued to operate as normal although some workers stayed home.
It continued to run the P60 million a year hospital and up market school Acasia Primary School, which wants to beef its Maths and Sciences this year.
Bonyongo said in 2009, the hospital was allowed to continue operating as it was and continues in 2010 allowing residents of the township to access its services.
Unlike other mines, Debswana allows the people of Jwaneng to use the hospital apart from its 2000 workers including their spouses.