The Botswana diamond mining industry has been implored to look for smaller deposits in a bid to add value to the economy. On the other hand, they were reminded that discovering another Jwaneng or Orapa is a pipe dream.
The Botswana Chamber of Mines, chief executive officer Charles Siwawa said at the opening of the 2016 Botswana Mining Industrial and Energy Expo that it will take a long time to explore in order to discover mines like Orapa and Jwaneng that are operated by Debswana, a 50/50 partnership between Botswana government and De Beers.
“The probability of discovering another Jwaneng or Orapa is very low though not necessarily impossible,” Siwawa told the industry. “This is based on the fact that significant exploration took place over a protracted time to discover these two mines.”
The Jwaneng pipe was discovered in the Naledi River Valley (‘Valley of the Stars’), Southern Botswana, in 1972 and it is the richest diamond mine in the world by value. In 2014, Jwaneng produced 11 312 279 carats.
Its sister mine, Orapa is a conventional open pit mine, situated 240 km west of Francistown. The Mine was discovered in 1967 by a team of De Beers geologists led by Manfred Marx. It became fully operational in July 1971 when it was officially opened by the then President of Botswana, His Excellency Sir Seretse Khama.
“These mines are still going strong and their sustainability is not questionable,” said Siwawa. However, he said the diamond industry should target smaller operations and emulate the Lucara Diamond-owned Karowe mine. “The diamond industry therefore has to look at smaller deposits as a form of adding value to the economy,” he advised.
“Indeed this strategy has paid dividends in that Karowe mine has produced the largest diamond in the past one hundred years, a 1111 carats. It is something to marvel. There are other smaller but bigger carat diamonds that have been discovered that have yielded good results in terms of monetary value,” he said.
“We therefore encourage such exploration that will lead to Ghaghoo mine, Lerala mine and BK11 though currently under care and maintenance. The more these are allowed to produce, the better for our economy”.