June 1, 2017 / 12:01 PM / a year ago

Botswana Lerala Diamond Mine shuts down - newspaper

Diamonds are seen during an exhibition in Gaborone, Botswana, November 23, 2015. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

GABORONE (Reuters) - Australia’s Kimberley Diamond Ltd (KDL) has shut its Lerala Diamond Mine in Botswana citing weak market conditions, leaving 130 workers unemployed, a local newspaper reported Thursday.

Botswana Mine Workers Union national organising coordinator, Abel Buka told Mmegi Newspaper that Kimberley had briefed workers in a letter that it was closing operations after failing to agree a funding deal with a Chinese financier.

“The general manager engaged Kimberly on May 29, four days after workers were supposed to receive their salaries and he was told that the company had no money, so just close the mine and send the workers home,” he was quoted as saying.

Lerala Mine was opened in 2008 and has shut twice owing to weak sales. Kimberley had targeted an annual output of 360,000 carats over seven years.

No-one at Kimberley was available to comment and its website, where it usually provides updates, has been suspended.

Writing by Olivia Kumwenda-Mtambo, editing by David Evans

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