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Debswana look forward …and back

Debswana MD, Lynette Armstrong
LOOKING AHEAD: Debswana MD, Lynette Armstrong

Debswana Managing Director (MD), Lynette Armstrong says the company’s automation drive will be key to its future expansion plans.

“Identifying how best to deploy technology/automation, data, and digitalization as key drivers to achieve organisational effectiveness and efficiency is central to this plan,” notes Armstrong in the company’s Stakeholder Report for 2020.

She further revealed that to prepare for future expansion, the mining giant has continued its journey to building and driving robust skills to enable a transition to underground mining.

“A Skills Development Plan was developed in Quarter 4 of 2019 to take into account the influence of Industry 4.0 in directing skills development as a way of achieving smart mining and cost-containment/operational targets,” explains the MD.

Armstrong said training and development are also being transformed to accommodate digital learning platforms and promote self-study in line with new ways of learning.

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“Following the Board approval of the Debswana Strategy 2024 in November 2019, Management embarked on a launch of the Company’s new direction,” she disclosed.

Debswana Board Chairman, Elias Magosi described 2020 as a historic, tumultuous, turbulent and challenging year.

“We had to remain prudent when navigating the unpredictable economic climate, but our operations delivered reasonably good results thanks to the passion and hard work of Debswana employees,” declared Magosi.

He noted the global impact of Covid-19 on movement restrictions and the subsequent shutdown of all jewellery markets outside of China and the entire midstream presented unprecedented challenges to the company, as well as the whole diamond industry.

According to Magosi, in 2020 total volumes moved decreased by 17 percent, while diamond production for the year decreased by 29 percent and revenue reduced by 27 percent.

Operating expenses also reduced by 17 percent; distributions paid to shareholders decreased by a staggering 45 percent; and, Earnings Before Interest, Tax, Depreciation and Amortisation reduced by the same percentage.

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“In the face of the Company’s reduced performance, the Board took a deliberate step and adopted an over-arching strategy that was premised on cash conservation, producing to market demand, positioning the business for market up-turn readiness and ensuring that key decisions taken would minimise risks to Debswana’s future,” Magosi said.

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