The De Beers Group will be investing $1 billion to extend the life of what the company's CEO calls "the world’s greatest diamond mine." What Al Cook is referring to is Botswana's prolific Jwaneng Mine, which has produced nearly 11 million carats of high-quality diamonds per year for the past 40 years.
Jwaneng is an open-pit mine lying above three diamond-rich kimberlite pipes that converge near the surface, covering 520,000 square meters at ground level. The next phase of its operations will see the company channeling underground, where miners will be reaching high-grade ore via 360 kilometers (224 miles) of interconnecting tunnels. The underground operations are expected to deliver about 9 million carats per year by 2034.
The mine is operated by Debswana, a 50:50 joint venture between De Beers Group and the Government of the Republic of Botswana.
The De Beers Group has specifically earmarked the $1 billion for the "Exploration Access Development Phase" of the project, during which Debswana will establish a drilling platform to facilitate comprehensive sampling of the kimberlite pipes. The work will begin in May of this year.
“Jwaneng stands proudly as the world’s greatest diamond mine," said Cook. "It is a central pillar of both the Botswana economy and the De Beers Group business. The global supply of natural diamonds is falling, so moving forward with the Jwaneng Underground Project creates new value for investors, brings new technology to the country, creates new skills for our workforce and provides new gems for customers around the world.”
The announcement comes on the heels of a 2023 sales agreement between De Beers Group and the Government of the Republic of Botswana. The 10-year deal will see Africa’s sixth-richest country gradually upping its share of the rough diamonds produced at its prolific Debswana-operated mines from 25% to 50%. The Jwaneng Mine currently employs 2,100 permanent workers and 3,200 contractors.
Situated in south-central Botswana about 120 kilometers (75 mi) west of the city of Gaborone, the Jwaneng diamond mine has earned a reputation for producing high-quality — and, at times, very large — diamonds.
In June of 2021, Debswana unveiled a three-inch-tall, 1,098-carat, gem-quality rough diamond that currently ranks fifth on Wikipedia’s list of the largest rough diamonds of all time. Interestingly, six of the top seven rough diamonds on the Wikipedia list were sourced in Botswana.
Credit: Jwaneng Diamond Mine photo courtesy of Debswana.com.