The Board of Debswana, the 50:50 diamond mining joint venture between De Beers Group and the Government of the Republic of Botswana, has announced approval of the investment for a key development phase of the Jwaneng underground project, paving the way for one of the world’s most valuable diamond mine to transition from open pit to underground operations.
The circa-$1 billion investment in this phase of works, known as the Exploration Access Development Phase, is for establishing a drilling platform to facilitate comprehensive sampling of the kimberlite pipes, delivering the early access decline for the underground mine and developing essential infrastructure to support forthcoming stages of the project.
The initial works, to start in May 2024, follow the successful completion of feasibility studies.
Following the Exploration Access Development stage, the project will be developed in two further phases, Phase 1 mining and Phase 2 mining, to support long-term future production at the mine in an environment of tightening long-term diamond supply.
De Beers Group CEO and Debswana Deputy Board Chairman, Al Cook, said: “Jwaneng stands proudly as the world’s greatest diamond mine. It is a central pillar of both the Botswana economy and the De Beers Group business. The global supply of natural diamonds is falling, so moving forward with the Jwaneng Underground Project creates new value for investors, brings new technology to the country, creates new skills for our workforce and provides new gems for customers around the world. This investment is aligned with our strategy to prioritise investments in the highest quality projects. We are proud to work in partnership with the Botswana Government in creating a bright future for Debswana.”
Since 1982, when the Jwaneng Mine started operating, it has produced an annual average of almost 11 Mct/y. Currently the mine employs 2,100 permanent employees and 3,200 contractors. Pending relevant future Debswana Board approvals, the Jwaneng underground project will ensure a long-term future for the mine while creating new jobs in Botswana and ensuring Debswana continues to make a significant contribution to Botswana’s economy, De Beers says.