A relatively new diamond-mine, located in the heart of Central Kalahari Game Reserve (CKGR), Ghaghoo mine which is a subsidiary of Gem Diamonds Botswana, has suspended operations and preparing to undergo retrenchment exercise.
Managing Director of Gem Diamonds Botswana, Haile Mphusu, confirmed to this publication that retrenchment will ensue as a result of halting of production at the mine. “We are starting process of putting the mine on care and maintenance,” Mphusu pointed out while adding that in a lay man’s view, “it means that production has stopped.” “The only work that will take place is the one aimed at preserving the assets. By all intends and purposes production has ceased,” the MD stressed.
The reasons for closing the mine he said is that the price of the type of diamonds that is mined at Ghaghoo has weakened and “we are continuing to lose money.” He pointed out that most employees will be cut but of course not all will lose jobs, others will remain to keep the asset in state so that when prices of diamonds recovers, mining can start.
“We have around 183 employees in Botswana who work for Gem Diamonds Botswana that owns Ghaghoo mine. We also have around 115 that we outsourced to other companies. In the process of care and maintenance, only around 30 to 40 employees will remain to take care of the assets. Therefore around 250 will lose jobs,” he highlighted to this publication.
According to Mphusu, shareholders cannot continue to subsidies the mine. Gem Diamonds, the leading producer of high-value diamonds, owns both the Letšeng mine in Lesotho, and the Ghaghoo mine in Botswana. Its client base comprises of prominent diamantaires and manufacturers from the world’s major diamond centers which are New York, Belgium, Israel, India, China, South Africa, the United Kingdom, the Middle East and Switzerland.
Basically Gem Diamonds Botswana mine has not been making profits for 5 years now and it is said to have been supported by its sister mine, Letšeng in Lesotho during that time. Now, that Letšeng is said to be struggling as well, Gem Diamonds Botswana was forced to close down Ghaghoo mine because they cannot support the two operations that are both struggling.
Mphusu stated that, diamond is not like gold, it depends on the quality, size and type of diamonds that you mine. The mine started operations in 2011 and has been engulfed by loses over the years due to the low prices of diamonds. He added that last year, the organization underwent restructuring exercise in which it was trying to keep some jobs with the hope that price of diamond will recover in 2016, but it did not happen.
Reports indicate that other attempts by international Gem Diamonds to extend its operations beyond Botswana and Lesotho have been unsuccessful, with the sale of the Ellendale mine in Australia for $15m in 2012, and the closure of the Cempaka alluvial mine in Indonesia in 2008. Exploration efforts in Angola and elsewhere in Africa also said to have been unsuccessful.
Inside sources suggest that, Mphusu’s talk is candy coated because the reality of the matter is that, Ghaghoo mine closed down its doors of operation on Thursday this week following organization’s projection of uncertainty into the future. “Mine closed down today. It’s official. The mine has now been placed under care and maintenance. Management is saying this is because of downfall in diamond sales that went down in December 2016. And because the type of diamonds that are mined in CKGR are struggling in the market – it’s unlikely for them to recover anytime soon,” a highly placed source linked to the mine, who alerted the publication on the development revealed.
He however alleges that part of the reason that led to mine closure was poor management. “The mine was not planned well. Their underground mining method was not executed well. The timing was wrong, they rushed for production and it caught up with them. Their plant also hasn’t been doing well since implementation,” the sourced explained. The company retrenched about 250 workers in March last year to scale down production, the immaculate source, further highlighted to this publication.
Ghaghoo mine, the first underground mine in Botswana, was instigated in 2011 following the Botswana government’s controversial forceful eviction of Basarwa from their homeland in the CKGR to pave way for the mine under dubious circumstances.
Botswana Police Service (BPS) has indicated concern about the ongoing trend where the general public falls victim to criminals purporting to be police officers.
According to BPS Assistant Commissioner, Dipheko Motube, the criminals target individuals at shopping malls and Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) where upon approaching the unsuspecting individual the criminals would pretend to have picked a substantial amount of money and they would make a proposal to the victims that the money is counted and shared in an isolated place.
“On the way, as they stop at the isolated place, they would start to count and sharing of the money, a criminal syndicate claiming to be Criminal Investigation Department (CID) officer investigating a case of stolen money will approach them,” said Motube in a statement.
The Commissioner indicated that the fake police officers would instruct the victims to hand over all the cash they have in their possession, including bank cards and Personal Identification Number (PIN), the perpetrators would then proceed to withdraw money from the victim’s bank account.
Motube also revealed that they are also investigating a case in which a 69 year old Motswana woman from Molepolole- who is a victim of the scam- lost over P62 000 last week Friday to the said perpetrators.
“The Criminal syndicate introduced themselves as CID officers investigating a case of robbery where a man accompanying the woman was the suspect.’’
They subsequently went to the woman’s place and took cash amounting to over P12 000 and further swindled amount of P50 000 from the woman’s bank account under the pretext of the further investigations.
In addition, Motube said they are currently investigating the matter and therefore warned the public to be vigilant of such characters and further reminds the public that no police officer would ask for bank cards and PINs during the investigations.
Botswana Congress Party (BCP) leadership walked out of Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting this week on account of being targeted by other cooperating partners.
UDC meet for the first time since 2020 after previous futile attempts, but the meeting turned into a circus after other members of the executive pushed for BCP to explain its role in media statements that disparate either UDC and/or contracting parties.
The Director General of the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crimes (DCEC), Tymon Katlholo’s spirited fight against the contentious transfers of his management team has forced the Office of the President to rescind the controversial decision. However, some insiders suggest that the reversal of the transfers may have left some interested parties with bruised egos and nursing red wounds.
The transfers were seen by observers as a badly calculated move to emasculate the DCEC which is seen as defiant against certain objectionable objectives by certain law enforcement agencies – who are proven decisionists with very little regard for the law and principle.