X-ray to catch Botswana gem thieves


GABORONE — Debswana plans to install 10 full-body X-ray machines at four mines in Botswana after “indications” of gem theft in the world’s biggest producer of the precious stones.

The value of the diamonds it mines and their small size “predisposes” the gems to theft and crime, Debswana, a joint venture between the Botswana government and Anglo American Plc unit De Beers, said in a notice published today.

The relocation of De Beers diamond trading operations to Gaborone, Botswana’s capital, from London has the potential to attract “sophisticated criminal syndicates,” causing lost revenue and an increase in blackmarket diamonds, the company said.

Debswana Diamond Company
Debswana Diamond Company

The equipment will replace a current system of strip-searching people for gems.

Four of the machines will be installed at security checkpoints at Jwaneng, the world’s biggest diamond mine.

Four will also be placed at Orapa and one each at the Letlhakane and Damtshaa mines.

Similar machines are already in use at De Beers mines in South Africa and Namibia, Debswana said.

Debswana will install the scanners once the plan wins approval from Botswana’s Department of Environmental Affairs.

In the first three quarters of last year, Debswana produced 18,3 million carats and earned revenue of P26,7 billion ($2,8 billion).

— Bloomberg News