By ‘Majirata Latela
Storm Mountain Diamonds has suffered huge losses after it was forced to stop operations completely and was unable to operate for two and a half months due to Covid-19.
This was disclosed by Kao Mine’s CEO Mohale Ralikariki, who said the mine has lost production of approximately 50 000 carats and revenue of M250 million, and that all employees and contractors have also been directly impacted although the company managed to get through the period so far with assistance from its shareholders.
Ralikariki told theReporter this week that, further to that, the restrictions on travel directly impacted the diamond marketing platforms in Belgium and the company had been unable to sell its product since March which plunged the company into a liquidity crisis.
“To manage this liquidity crisis, the company has implemented strategies to unlock all its potential sources of funding, and at the same time tightly manage all cash flows and expenditure. The pandemic has exposed that the Lesotho diamond mines are marginal and susceptible to external shocks.
“Kao Mine would not have been able to survive without the support from Government as the regulator, tax recipient and shareholder, hence we applaud the Ministry of Mining for their continued support.
In spite of all adversities, the mine has still been able to play its part in the prevention of the pandemic and mitigations of its impact.
According to Ralikariki, the mine has put together a Covid-19 relief plan aimed at reducing the impact of Covid-19 on the communities surrounding the operations of the mine.
“To date, the mine has done door to door awareness at each and every household in the communities to educate the communities about the virus, what it is, how its spreads, its prevention and how it can be treated should one be positive.
“Following the intensive awareness, in an effort to curb the spread of the virus, the mine provided protective cloth masks to every individual in the community, this includes children and adults. Some families have been hit the hardest as they already live below the poverty line, such families were provided with food parcels which consist of 50kg maize meal, 5kg beans and 5liter cooking oil.
“In order to protect employees that are from the community while at work, all employees are screened when they enter the mine premises to detect the virus on time. Should a person be suspected to have the virus, they are immediately put in isolation/quarantine and tested. They will stay in isolation until 14 days have passed or until they have been cleared by a medical Doctor. So far we have not had any positive cases from the community.”
The mine has recorded a cumulative total of 15 Covid-19 cases since the resumption of operations after lockdown.
“There are nine recoveries, six active cases and no deaths recorded. The company has developed a comprehensive Covid-19 preparedness and response plan to ensure protection of employees against Covid-19. Infra-red thermometers are being used for screening and thermal cameras used for group screening in identified points where people pass in numbers.
“There is an arrangement to ensure social distancing in the kitchen and a schedule has been developed to ensure minimum number of people at any given time. There are designated isolation rooms being utilized for isolation of suspected or confirmed cases. Single status accommodation has been provided with the company increasing the accommodation facilities and reducing the total number of people on site ate any given point,” Ralikariki concluded.