Debswana, the joint venture between the Botswana government and Anglo American’s De Beers unit, intends to invest US$6 billion to build the world’s largest underground diamond mine at Botswana’s Jwaneng. The mine is already considered the richest mine by value for the precious stones. The underground mine will have more than 360 km of tunnel development and is expected to hit full production by 2034, Debswana’s head of transformation and innovation, Thabo Balopi, said at a briefing in the capital, Gaborone, last Friday.
According to Mining Weekly, citing Botswana Central Bank data, exports of rough diamonds in Q3 nosedived to -66%. Debswana, the 50/50 joint venture between miner De Beers and the Government of Botswana, representing the bulk of the country's diamond exports, reported exporting a mere US$287m worth of rough in Q3 2020, compared to US$863m in Q3 2019.
Diamond-rich Botswana expects mineral revenues in the 2019/20 fiscal year to drop by 4 percent to 13.6 billion pula ($1.26 billion) due to a decline in royalties and dividends, a minerals ministry budget document showed last week. Botswana is heavily dependent on its diamond resources which, according to the World Bank, is responsible for 25% of the country's GDP, approximately 85% of exports earnings and about one-third of the government's revenues.
Discussions between the Government of Botswana and De Beers Group are already underway as the long-standing partners look to strike a new deal. The current 10-year agreement for the sorting, valuing and sales of Debswana’s diamond production (Debswana is a 50/50 mining joint venture between Botswana and De Beers) is set to expire at the end of 2020. Botswana is reportedly pushing for a larger stake in its "new marriage" with De Beers ahead of the negotiations for the next sales agreement, writes The Southern Times.
Sales at Botswana's state-owned Okavango Diamond Company (ODC) fell by 16 percent in the first half of 2018 to $260 million, said managing director Marcus ter Haar, citing a high comparison base against last year's record growth, as Reuters reports. The company sold 1.778 million carats in the first half of 2018 compared with 1.808 million carats in the same period last year.
Debswana, the joint venture between the Botswana government and Anglo American’s De Beers unit, intends to expand its Jwaneng Mine extending its lifespan by eleven years, to 2035, to extract an additional 50 million carats.
With De Beers leading the charge by increasing rough production 46% in Q3 and 29% for the first nine months of the year, as ALROSA increased production 6% thus far in 2017, the two diamond mining giants together have churned out 54.8 million carats in the first nine months of 2017, a 15% increase over the 47.5 million carats during the same time frame last year.
The Botswana Government, through the Ministry of Investment, Trade and Industry, today signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Anglo American, Debswana and De Beers Global Sightholder Sales to underpin the continued expansion of the Tokafala Enterprise Development program, according to a De Beers Group press release. The partnership to implement a 3-year program builds on Anglo American’s extensive experience and successes in enterprise development, tailored to the specific Botswana context.
Botswana's Debswana Diamond Mining, a joint venture between De Beers and the southern Africa country's government, plans to extend the lifespan of its Jwaneng mine beyond 2024, reports Reuters Africa, citing a mines minister. The project, known as "Cut 9", has been under discussion for five years as part of the Jwaneng Resource Extension Project. This Project led to the development of Cut 8, the $3 billion expansion project designed to prolong the Jwaneng Mine an additional 7 years, ensuring continuous production until at least 2024 and producing 100 million carats.
Botswana's Debswana, the world's biggest diamond producer by sales value, is on track to produce its first diamonds from the expanded Jwaneng Mine by next year, a company official said on Tuesday. Known as Cut 8, the $3 billion expansion project aims to prolong the Jwaneng mine's life and produce 100 million carats. “The Jwaneng pit expansion is on track and will start delivering first ore to plant in 2017,” Debswana Corporate Affairs Manager Matshidiso Kamona said.
Anglo American has published an update on its production performance for the third quarter of 2016, indicating that diamond production for the third quarter of 2016 increased by four percent to 6.3 million carats compared with the third quarter of 2015, when production was reduced to 6.0 million carats in response to weaker trading conditions.
Construction of Botswana-based diamond mining company Debswana’s Letlhakane mine tailings resource treatment plant project (LMTRTP), near Orapa, is currently 80% complete, with final project completion expected by 2017, writes Mining Weekly. The Letlhakane Mine is Debswana's second oldest mine, opened in 1975, achieving peak production of approximately 1.1 million carats annually; 583,207 carats were recovered from the mine in 2015.
Botswana exported $438.9 million of rough diamonds in July, significantly higher than the $342.8 million figure for June and far ahead of the $70.3 million of goods exported in May. The statistics were provided by the Bank of Botswana. The July exports are the third-highest this year and Botswana exported $2.236 billion in the first seven months of this year. The country is on track to surpass the export figures for 2015 when the country was hit by a sharp slowdown in global demand.
Botswana's Minerals, Energy and Water Resources Minister Kitso Mokaila told parliament that two of the country's cutting and polishing firms closed down at the end of last year leaving just 19 such operations. Local manufacturers have been hit by the value of rough diamonds supplied to them dropping by nearly half in 2015 due to Botswana's reduced output and soft global demand. Mokaila said the value of rough diamonds supplied to the local cutting and polishing industry dropped to $502 million in 2015 from $936 million the year before.
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.
The Southern Times (Southern Africa) reports that the partnership between the Botswana government and diamond giant De Beers faces an uncertain future with opposition parties in the country making repeated calls that it should be terminated. Leaders of main opposition Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) say there is need to reconsider the relationship between the Southern African country and De Beers.
According to statistics published by the Bank of Botswana on Feb. 11, the value of exports from the major diamond mines in Botswana fell 38% to a seven-year low of $2.4 billion (P28.5 billion) in 2015 from $3.9 billion (P45.6 billion) the previous year. The figures however do not include diamonds that De Beers brings in the country for aggregation before re-exportation. Botswana diamond exports were last recorded lower during the 2009 global financial crisis when the country’s mines exported $1.8 billion worth of stones.
De Beers reported that diamond production for the fourth quarter of 2015 decreased 16% to 7.1 million carats, saying the figures reflected the decision to reduce production in response to trading conditions. At its largest mining unit, Debswana, production decreased 21% to 4.7 million carats, as a result of a reduction in tonnes treated at Jwaneng and Orapa. Production in Namibia dropped 18% to 400,000 carats, and in Canada, output was down 8% to 400,000 carats. However, in South Africa, production increased slightly to 1.5 million carats.
Botswana’s national diamond mining company Debswana is to close operations at its Damtshaa mine and reduce production at Orapa No.1 mine for the next three years due to an ongoing downturn in the global diamond market. The company, a 50/50 joint venture between De Beers and the Botswana government, had forecast production of 22 million carats for 2015 but in October the company said the figure had since been revised to 21 million. Company spokesperson Esther Kanaimba-Senai said the Damtshaa mine will go into a care and maintenance program for up to three years.
De Beers has published press release stating that it intends to reduce rough diamond production at Debswana, Botswana: "Since the start of 2015, the diamond industry has experienced a number of challenges leading to abnormally high pipeline inventories of polished diamonds, resulting in lower demand for Debswana’s rough diamonds. As a result, Debswana has revised its production for 2016 to 20 million carats to match expected levels of demand for rough.
The global news giant provides its viewers and readers with an insight into Botswana's diamond industry and a look at the giant Jwaneng diamond mining operation.
Diamond industry analyst Avi Krawitz writes for Rapaport News that, "Fifty years on from independence, Botswana still finds itself in desperate need of improvements in its economic diversity. Its unsustainable reliance on diamonds is the reason why." The country's economic success story over the last fifty years is almost entirely attributable to the development of its diamond industry, but over-dependence on diamonds - last year the industry contributed 33% of Botswana's GDP - leaves it vulnerable to a downturn in the market, such as we have seen in 2015.
Diamond industry analyst Chaim Even-Zohar has published an analysis of the steps that led to, and the potential results of, De Beers' (DB) deferral of contractually obligated purchases from its own rough supplier in Botswana - Debswana (DW). Suddenly, the standard-bearing producer of rough diamonds is behaving like any other rough trader further downstream, refusing to purchase rough diamonds that are overpriced.
Given De Beers' very weak recent sights and its 22 Oct. announcement that its diamond production for the third quarter of 2015 decreased 27% to 6 million carats, with Q3 production by Debswana - a joint venture between the Botswana government and De Beers - decreasing 35% to 4.1 million carats, it comes as no surprise that exports of rough diamonds from mines in Botswana fell 41% to $531.9 million in the third quarter to September.
The value of rough diamonds exports from Botswana's mines fell 15 percent in the first six months of the year to $1.7 billion according to official data, Reuters reported. Debswana's output declined by 4 percent to 12 million carats in the first half of 2015. Debswana, the world's second-largest diamond producer by sale value in 2014 according to Kimberley Process figures, earlier this year cut its full year production target for 2015 to 20 million carats from 23 million carats.
Reuters Africa reports that Debswana - a partnership between the Republic of Botswana and De Beers Group, and the world's biggest diamond producer by sales value - has cut its 2015 production target to 20 million carats from 23 million carats, according to secretary for economic and financial planning Taufila Nyamadzabo.
Consumer demand, retail stocking levels and the rate of inventory depletion among manufacturers will determine demand for rough stones in the coming months, said De Beers Group head of media relations Lynette Gould in comments on market conditions. She also commented on the miner’s willingness to allow more deferrals by its sightholders, and new licenses the firm has secured in Botswana and South Africa.
A sharp decline in sales of rough goods by the jointly owned De Beers-Botswana mining firm Debswana and by the Okavango Diamond Company (ODC) in the first half of this year is likely to hit the country's budget. Finance Minister Kenneth Matambo in February, citing projections of a 10 percent growth in minerals revenues, announced forecasts of a P1.23 billion 2015-2016-budget surplus. But dropping diamond sales and a revision downwards for output this year will see Botswana's diamond revenues take a hit.
The country has developed an over-reliance on income from its diamond resources over the past half century, and that is causing damage to its economic growth. In a 'Systematic Country Diagnostic' report, the World Bank warns that consumer spending has replaced diamonds as the key driver of economic growth, but this will be unsustainable in Botswana due to its weak private sector and high levels of household debt. Diamonds account for 75% of the country's foreign currency earnings and around two-thirds of Gross Domestic Product.