A $2.2 billion program to expand the Jwaneng mine in Botswana and provide access to an estimated 110 million carats of rough stones in an area of the huge operation known as Cut 8 has encountered its first gem-bearing ore six years after it started, General Manager Albert Milton told Bloomberg Business. Debswana, a joint venture between De Beers and the Botswana government, started the extension at Jwaneng in 2010. It the largest single investment in the country, with Cut 8 due to become the mine’s main source of gems in 2018. Miners have moved about 344 million metric tons of the 500 million tons of rock and soil needed to access the kimberlite and have already found some ore, Milton said.
“We are encountering ore in the south already,” Milton said. “We are not far from reaching ore in the north, and in the next couple of weeks we should be encountering it there too. We will continue exposing limited amounts throughout 2016 and 2017, but by 2018 we will be fully in the ore.” Last year, Jwaneng’s production was cut by 13% to 9.8 million carats, with most of its output from the Cut 7 ore body. The output represented 34 percent of De Beers’ global diamond production in 2015.