The Debswana Diamond Company (Debswana), a 50/50 joint venture between the Government of the Republic of Botswana and De Beers Group, has today (March 18, 2019) announced the commencement of the Cut-9 project to extend the life of Jwaneng Mine, one of the world’s most valuable diamond mines. The project will extend the life of Jwaneng Mine to 2035, and is expected to yield an estimated 53 million carats of rough diamonds from 44 million tonnes of treated material. It is called Cut-9 because it is the ninth cut, or expansion, of the mine. Cut-8 became the main source of ore for Botswana’s Jwaneng mine in 2018, increasing the depth of the mine from 400 metres to 650 metres, ensuring continuous production until at least 2024. It provided access to an estimated 88 million carats of mainly high-quality diamonds from about 75 million tonnes of material.
Debswana will invest approximately US$2 billion (approximately 21.4 billion Pula) over the life of the project underpinning the partnership’s commitment to the future of Botswana’s diamond industry. The shareholders of Debswana have approved the budget for 2019 so that the next phase of work can commence. At its peak Cut-9 is expected to create more than 1,000 jobs, the majority of which will be held by Batswana citizens. A local contract has also been awarded by Debswana to Majwe Mining, a joint venture between Bothakga Burrow Botswana and Thiess Botswana, to provide diamond mining services. The value of the contract is US$1.2 billion (AUD$ 1.7 billion, the equivalent of approximately 12.9 billion Pula). De Beers earlier noted that Cut 8 is a crucial project for long-term global diamond supply, which is forecast to decline after 2020. It is also a crucial project for Botswana’s economy and jobs creation. Cut 9 will secure production and jobs another decade.
Bruce Cleaver, Chairman of Debswana, said: “The extension of Jwaneng Mine secures Botswana’s rightful place as a leading diamond producing nation for years to come. With global consumer demand for diamonds reaching record levels in 2018, the extension will enable us to continue to meet the needs of our consumers all over the world. We are deeply proud of the central role Jwaneng Mine has played in Botswana’s remarkable development story and of the role this investment will play in its future.” Debswana Managing Director, Albert Milton said: “As we have throughout the history of Jwaneng Mine we remain steadfast in ensuring that all projects are delivered safely and to the benefit of the people of Botswana. We are also committed to delivering on the citizen economic empowerment (CEEP) goals and will focus on training our people, developing their skills and harnessing technology to create further safety and efficiency improvements.”
Last week, Debswana said it aims to keep production at around 24 million carats in 2019. Debswana increased diamond output by 6 percent to a four-year high of 24.1 million carats in 2018, buoyed by strong demand from the United States, China and India. “I see the year staying as we budgeted at 24 million carats. There is no reason for us to change production forecasts at this moment,” said Debswana managing director Albert Milton. The company is the largest contributor to Botswana’s government revenues.