Debswana Seeks to Expand World’s Most Valuable Diamond Mine

- April 5th, 2018

Debswana, a joint venture between De Beers and the government of Botswana, wants to deepen the Jwaneng mine from 650 meters to 830 meters.

Botswana’s Debswana Diamond Mining is looking to expand its Jwaneng mine, the world’s most valuable diamond mine, to increase production to 50 million carats, local newspapers reported on Thursday (April 5).

Debswana, a joint venture between Anglo American’s (LSE:AAL) De Beers and the government of Botswana, wants to deepen the Jwaneng mine from 650 meters to 830 meters.

If permissions are granted, the Cut 9 project will extend the life of the mine for another 11 years, to 2035.

The expansion project will involve stripping away waste at the bottom of the mine, both widening and deepening the pit.

According to a notice published in local newspapers, the company has received provisional approval from the Department of Environmental Affairs, pending public review of its environmental-management plan.

The project will probably be financed internally, Debswana spokeswoman Matshidiso Kamona told Bloomberg. She declined to comment on the expected costs or schedule.

However, about US$3 billion has been spent so far to extend Jwaneng mine’s lifespan to 2030 under the previous expansion project, Debswana’s managing director, Balisi Bonyongo, said last week.

The government of Botswana intends to include the financing of Cut 9 in its negotiations with De Beers for the renewal of the 10-year sales agreement covering production from the Debswana mines. De Beers largely funded the previous expansion plan, the Cut 8 project.

Looking ahead, the company is aiming to complete a feasibility study for the expansion project by the end of the year.

The Jwaneng mine, which started full operations in 1982, still holds about 175 million carats, and another 24.3 million carats in tailings dumps.

Last year, the company’s production rose to 22.2 million carats, with sales jumping 16 percent as demand increased supported by a weaker US dollar.

“With stable and improving macroeconomics, particularly in the USA, we will see growth of the same order of magnitude or perhaps slight higher in 2018,” Bonyongo added.

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Securities Disclosure: I, Priscila Barrera, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.

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