The South African government is initiating special measures to cope with the fallout from the slowdown in China, which has severely hurt its mining industry, said Ngoako Ramatlhodi, the country's minister of mineral resources. In Hong Kong to promote the diamond trade, Ramatlhodi said: "We have been affected by China's slowdown. Exports have dropped, diamond prices are going down. About 19,000 jobs in the mining industry are at risk." China has been South Africa's biggest trade partner since 2009 and is the second-largest diamond consumer in the world. South Africa is one of the world's biggest exporters of gold, platinum group metals and diamonds. "All we are focusing on now is how to mitigate the impact from China," Ramatlhodi said. "As a member of BRICS, we are looking to convince China to give us preferential treatment in the mining trade. We will have a dialogue at the government level soon. "What we are hoping is that China will maintain the same level of purchase price and volumes so that we can save the jobs in our industry." BRICS refers to the leading emerging market economies of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. South Africa's mining authorities meet their Chinese counterparts twice a year as part of an institutionalised dialogue mechanism. "We are eliminating blood diamonds from the supply chain by strengthening regulation," said Ramatlhodi, alluding to diamonds mined in war zones and used to finance conflicts. "The president is encouraging the development of special industrial zones for the business. We are also finding ways to cut production costs." China's overall investment in Africa, however, had maintained a steady growth despite the slowdown, he said. "China's investments are very aggressive, the money is still coming in," said Ramatlhodi, adding that investments in chromium had been the most popular, followed by iron ore and platinum, but added that the diamond sector had been attracting less investment. Bilateral trade last year amounted to US$61.6 billion.