Letšeng diamond output down 20%

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Cape Town – Production at Lesotho’s Letšeng Diamond Mine is down around 20 percent as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Letšeng CEO Kelebone Leisanyane told The Southern Times Business that the pandemic had caused supply chain distortions and a slump in diamond prices.

“In terms of the 2020 business plan, Letšeng has lost 20 percent production as a result of lockdown and phased operations. The supply chain disruption also adversely affected the plant’s productivity and efficiencies. The largest impact came in the market, where diamonds were discounted by almost 20 percent. There was also the cost of developing and implementing COVID-19 protocols and full PCR testing on employee,” said Leisanyane.

He said Lesotho announced a lockdown on March 26 and three days later, all mines were placed on care and maintenance.

Letšeng was allowed to resume operations on April 22.

“When we resumed in April, our operations were subject to COVID-19 health and safety guidelines. The mine began its operations at 50 percent capacity and it took a month to ramp up operations to full production level,” Leisanyane added.

He said COVID-19 travel restrictions meant expatriates with specialised skills had been unable to return to the mine.

Leisanyane went on, “Travelling restrictions also affected the viewing of goods and effective payments for the goods purchased.”

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