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X-ray tech to curb theft at Botswana mines


Botswana mining company Debswana Diamond Company has joined its peers in South Africa and Namibia to introduce the use of Scannex machines to minimise diamond theft on its mines.

Scannex is a low X-ray dose, full body scanner for the purpose of resource protection. The machines’ primary application is the detection or deterring of illegal diamond trade by personnel at diamond mining operations.

Rachel Mothibatsela, corporate communication manager at Debswana, said current physical search methods used by the mine are not efficient to detect and recover all stolen diamonds that could be hidden within the human body.

“X-rays are the only known method capable of consistently detecting diamonds that are hidden within the human body,” Mothibatsela said.

Mothibatsela further said the acquirement of Scannex technology has been motivated by the growth of Botswana’s diamond industry, the relocation of the De Beers Diamond Trading Company International (DTCI) from London to Botswana capital city Gaborone and a growing diamond polishing industry in the country.

“The growth in the industry will most likely introduce new threats to diamond security, such as syndicates, illegal diamond trafficking and organised criminals; hence the need to beef up security at Debswana mines.”

Statistics indicate that 687 diamonds were stolen in the past 25 years in Botswana. From 1988 to 2001, 589 diamonds were stolen. While 98 cases of diamond theft were recorded from 2005 to date.

Though Debswana employees have expressed radiation exposure fears, Mothibatsela said the Scannex machine is a low dosage x-ray machine from which workers will receive a very low x-ray dosage per year.

In addition, Mothibatsela cited that extensive consultations on Scannex have been done by a committee representing both the mine and Botswana Mine Workers Union (BMWU).

Botswana recently enacted the Radiation Protection Act of 2006 and Radiation Protection Regulations in 2008 to regulate use of technology such as Scannex.


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