Botswana is full of diamond exploration, development and production companies. Here’s a brief overview of six of them.

To put it simply, diamonds are Botswana’s best friend. The gems account for one-third of the country’s total gross domestic product, as well as 76 percent of its export revenue and 45 percent of its government’s revenue, according to Mining Weekly.

It is thus unsurprising that Botswana is full of diamond exploration, development and production companies. Below are snapshots of six important companies in the country.

De Beers

Privately held De Beers operates four mines in Botswana in a joint venture with the country’s government. The mines are Jwaneng, Letlhakane, Orapa and Damtshaa, and the name of the joint venture is Debswana.

The Jwaneng mine is the world’s richest diamond mine by value, and contributes between 60 and 70 percent of Debswana’s revenue, as per the company’s website. It was discovered in 1972 and has been mined since 1982. Currently, Debswana is working on a major extension project that is expected to keep the mine producing continuously until at least 2024.

The Letlhakane mine, located in Botswana’s Boteti district, is still being explored, though it is also mined. The Damtshaa mine is Debswana’s youngest mine, and is expected to yield 5 million carats over its lifetime. Orapa is the world’s largest open-pit diamond mine; production has been ongoing since 1971. The site hosts a recovery plant that handles concentrate from Orapa as well as Letlhakane and Damtshaa.

Pangolin Diamonds (TSXV:PAN)

Exploration and development company Pangolin Diamonds has projects throughout Botswana. One of its most significant is the Tsabong North project, which is located on the Archaean Kaapvaal Craton, north of a diamondiferous kimberlite field that houses the largest-known kimberlite pipe in the world. As such, it is highly prospective for diamond mining. Soil sampling has yielded anomalous concentrations of kimberlite at Tsabong North, and garnets have also been found.

Pangolin also has a project just south of Debswana’s Jwaneng mine. This project, known as Jwaneng South, is currently being explored. Also under exploration is the highly prospective Malatswae Kimberlite project, which is southeast of the Orapa mine. Garnets have been discovered in this area as well, indicating the presence of undiscovered kimberlite deposits.

Finally, Pangolin’s Mmadinare project in Northeast Botswana has similar geobotanical features to those of known mines in the area that have produced diamonds. Exploration is ongoing at Mmadinare, and the company considers it a promising prospect.

Gem Diamonds (LSE:GEMD)

Gem Diamonds owns the Ghaghoo diamond mine on the Central Kalahari Game Reserve. It is estimated to host a resource of 20.53 million carats, and was valued at $4 billion as of October 2013. Ghaghoo is to be an underground  mine, and construction of the first phase began in 2011. Given the mine’s location, it must adhere to strict environmental standards in order to minimize its impact on the surrounding game reserve. The mine is situated on the Gope 25 kimberlite pipe.

Two blue diamonds were found during exploration at the site, which the company believes is promising due to the rarity of that color of diamond.

Clifford Elphick, CEO of Gem Diamonds, recently commented that the “development of the new mine at Ghaghoo is progressing well and is on track for the first production to be run through the Plant in H2 of [2014] as we focus on building our production profile in the longer term and deliver on our growth ambitions.”

Lucara Diamond (TSX:LUC)

Lucara Diamond, a new diamond producer, owns the Botswana-based Karowe mine, located in the Orapa/Letlhakane Kimberlite district, one of the world’s most diamondiferous kimberlite areas. It is a hard-rock open-pit mine that is currently in full production after being officially opened by Botswana’s president in August 2012.

Karowe produced 303,060 carats in 2012, according to Lucara’s website, and is expected to yield approximately 400,000 carats per year moving forward. Its indicated resource from surface to a depth of 400 meters is 51 MT containing 8.2 million carats.

Lucara has recovered a number of blue diamonds from Karowe, including a 9.46-carat Type II blue diamond. The company sold that diamond last November for $4.5 million.

Botswana Diamonds (LSE:BOD)

Diamond exploration and development company Botswana Diamonds holds exploration licenses in Cameroon as well as Botswana, but is mainly focused on Botswana. The company’s strategy is to “secure high potential ground and projects in the most prospective diamond provinces of Africa,” as per its website.

In terms of properties, Botswana Diamonds recently signed a joint venture with Brightstone, a private South African company. Brighstone holds an interest in 13 prospecting licenses “located to the southwest of the Orapa region of Botswana.” The company also has a joint venture with ALROSA (MCX:ALNU); Botswana Diamonds hopes to use ALROSA’s technological expertise to identify high-potential targets from its database.

The company holds licenses located on the Orapa kimberlite cluster as well.

Petra Diamonds (LSE:PDL)

Petra Diamonds, which describes itself as an “increasingly important supplier of rough diamonds to the international market,” acquired Kalahari Diamonds in 2005 and as a result came into possession of a large land parcel in Botswana.

Currently, the company’s main focus is evaluating the KX36 diamond discovery and the surrounding area. Initial exploration drilling is expected to begin in the first half of the 2014 fiscal year.


Related reading: 

Botswana: Soon to Become an International Diamond Hub

Colored Diamonds 101


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