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De Beers Weighs Taking Jwaneng Underground

Apr 28, 2021 8:58 AM   By Rapaport News
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De Beers is considering underground mining at its Jwaneng open-pit deposit in Botswana as a “likely approach” to extending the life of the world’s most valuable diamond mine beyond the mid-2030s.

“The underground mining project is still in the study phase and is yet to be approved,” a De Beers spokesperson said Tuesday in an email to Rapaport News. “If approved, it would have the potential to significantly extend Jwaneng’s life of mine beyond Cut-9.”

Debswana, a 50:50 joint venture between De Beers and the Botswana government, unveiled the Cut-9 expansion in March 2019 to extend the life of Jwaneng until 2035. Back then, the company said the project would cost Debswana about $2 billion and was likely to produce an estimated 53 million carats of rough diamonds.

In the first quarter of 2021, Botswana contributed almost 5 million carats to De Beers’ total production of just under 7.2 million, according to the miner.

The potential for underground mining came up during a Debswana stakeholder briefing. Media speculation has pegged the cost of the project at about $6 billion.

“Detailed studies yet to be completed will determine the level of spend on the project, as well as its timing,” the spokesperson added. “It should be noted that the proposed project spend referenced in media reports would be over a more than 20-year time period.”

Following Debswana’s decision to operate and manage the Cut-9 project in-house, the spokesperson said the transition of work from contractor Majwe Mining to Debswana was complete and had gone “smoothly so far.”

Still, Debswana plans to outsource key services and resources, as necessary, but it will give priority to procuring goods and services from citizen-owned companies, in line with Debswana’s Citizen Economic Empowerment Policy (CEEP).

Image: A worker at the Jwaneng mine. (Ben Perry/Armoury Films/De Beers)
Tags: Botswana, Cut-9, De Beers, Debswana, Jwaneng, Majwe Mining, Rapaport News
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