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De Beers highlights achievements in the 40 year partnership with Botswana
Debswana has contributed to a holistic development of the country
By: Diamond World News Service
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Jun 24 2009 2:37PM
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Reference: 3929  

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The partnership between De Beers and Botswana has completed 40 years, since it began with the signing of a lease agreement for the Orapa Mine on 23rd June 1969. It was also at this time that the De Beers Botswana Mining Company Limited (renamed Debswana in 1992) was established. The 40 years have seen many inspiring milestones for Botswana, from being one of Africa’s poorest countries into a middle income country in the world, experiencing economic, infrastructure, education and healthcare development.

Today, around 25 percent of the jobs in the country are within the diamond industry Debswana itself employs around 6,000 staff, producing approximately $3.2bn worth of diamonds each year. The diamonds account for 76 percent of Botswana’s export revenue, 45 percent of government revenue and 33 percent of GDP.

Nicky Oppenheimer, Chairman of De Beers, remarked recently “Debswana has a bright future. It is built on the shared commitment to turn Botswana’s national resources into national assets, the unflinching dedication of its Batswana employees, and its resilience in the face of even the strongest of storms. It is the bedrock of a wonderful bond which De Beers has with the people of Botswana. Long may it continue!”

The 40 years also recount other landmark social contributions by Debswana, when it became the first mining company in the world to offer free anti-retroviral treatment to employees, their spouses, and their children, during the outbreak of HIV/AIDS in Debswana which existed outside of a medical insurance scheme.

As former President Festus Mogae said in June 2006 “For our people, every diamond purchase represents food on the table, better living conditions, better healthcare, safe drinking water, more roads to connect our remote communities and much more.”

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