P2 Billion Letlhakane Tailings Project Recovers First Carats

Debswana’s Letlhakane Mine Tailings Resource Treatment Project (LMTRTP) recently reached its biggest and final milestone through the recovery of the first carats from the tailings resource. This follows tests which introduced feed to the plant. The commissioning also marked a historical moment for Letlhakane Mine, as the tailings resource was mined and treated for the very first time since the Mine’s commissioning in 1975.

Acting Letlhakane Mine Senior Commissioning Manager, Kirby Motsumi said they are delighted with this milestone achievement which is in line with our strategic goals. “Of course, we thank our team and Business Partners for working tirelessly and safely in the delivery of this key milestone. The focus is now on preparing for continuous running of the Plant. This means working to deliver per the strategic blueprint we have in place, and ensuring efficient and sustainable efforts,” Motsumi said.

Letlhakane Mine Tailings Resource Treatment Project

Senior Construction Manager, Douglas Hambidge, echoed this sentiment. “Achieving the milestone has indeed brought in a lot of excitement amongst the teams, especially contractors and Business Partners as they witness their handiwork come to life. This is a great feat, and we are excited at the progress being made.” 

Part of final commissioning stages, included introduction of tailings material into the different sections of the process plant and confirmation that the individual sections achieve production targets. This aspect is critical to the project. It prepared for the final stage of commissioning; that is, achievement of name plate design which saw the process plant as a whole operating at design production capacity over a specific time.

For the plant to go into full production, Senior Project Manager, Omphile Ntabeni revealed that the plant ought to run consistently for 72 hours/3 days, reaching the set production targets. “I remain confident that with support from the various stakeholders and teamwork delivered on this key project,” he said.

The new plant is expected to extend the “Life of Mine” for Letlhakane Mine by over 20 years, thus a testament to the future planning for the Mine. The LMTRTP project has kept an impressive safety record of over 3.8 million hours without a Lost Time Injury (LTI). This means not a single injury that resulted in time off work, which essentially translates into zero material or substantive injuries on the Mine.

Debswana continues to drive sustainable future planning for Letlhakane Mine and indeed all operations across the company. This takes into consideration the Company’s cognisance of the fact that the resource Debswana mines, and which enriches the Nation, is finite. Plans are always underway to prepare for the short and long-term future of the business in this regard, and accomplishments such as LMTRTP’s mined carats remain key highlights that support strategic activities and plans.

The P2.1 billion (US$196 million) Letlhakane Mine Tailings Resource Treatment Project involved the building of a modular plant to recover diamonds from coarse tailings (leftover materials from diamond mining) through the use of new and improved recovery technologies.
Construction started in the first quarter of 2015 and commissioning began in the first half of 2017. Around 21 million carats, from approximately 83 million tonnes of material, are expected to be recovered over an estimated 25 years. Letlhakane, Debswana’s deepest mine, is an open-pit mine in Botswana’s Boteti Sub-district, 190km west of Francistown. It is Debswana’s second mine to be opened (in 1976) and has produced more than 31 million carats since then.

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