Shareholders to the proposed AK6 mine said this week that they have submitted an application for a mining licence heightening the economic boom mood in the northern parts of the country.
In a statement that was widely distributed last week, De Beers and African Diamonds, under the umbrella Boteti Exploration, said they were “pleased to announce that on September 28, 2007 the company submitted an application for a mining license to the Ministry of Minerals, Energy and Water Resources to mine the AK6 deposit which was discovered by De Beers Prospecting Botswana”.
“We are looking at something as big as Letlhakane mine ( in terms of high quality and production) and this one is very positive since it will be one of the deepest four in the world,” African Diamonds’ Managing Director, James Campbell had said.
According to the drilling results made so far, traces of kimberlites containing diamonds have been found to the depth of 702 meters over an area the size of 8 square kilometers just 15 kilometers south-west of Letlhakane village.
If the mine goes according to plan, it will be the fourth mine around Letlhakane village on top of Damtshaa, Letlhakane and Orapa minesÔÇöthe last three being operated by Debswana.
The mine is expected to start at a low key of 600,000 carats per annum and jump to about 1.2 million carats or just above 4 million tones of ore per annum. The average carat price is currently valued at US $ 150 with a provision of going up before the mine commences its production.
The mine sits on one pipe which is divided into the central and the southern loop. The central loop will produce the small diamonds while the southern loop will produce the well sought after type II larger diamonds,” Campbell told The Sunday Standard.
AK 6 is a joint venture between De Beers and African Diamonds and Wati Ventures in a shareholding structure of 66.22 percent and 28 percent and 5.4 percent, respectively.
The mine is expected to be in full production by 2009, a move that will strengthen Botswana’s position as the world’s leading diamond producer. So far, Botswana produces one-third of the world’s gem-stones and the last recorded figure was 34.3 million carats worth US $ 3.38 billion or US $ 98.50 per carat yield.
AK6 is expected to have a lifespan of 10 years as an open cast mine, which is likely to be followed by a further 10 years of underground.
“Once operational, the mine will employ approximately 240 permanent employees for phase one of the operation increasing to approximately 320 permanent employees during phase two of the operation.
During the construction phase which precedes mining, employment levels are predicted to peak at approximately 1500 people,” the statement said.
De Beers, which is the world’s biggest diamond producer with a wealth of experience in the industry that spans over 118 years, has been appointed the operator by the shareholders.
“De Beers and its partners are pleased at the prospect to operate another diamond mine to benefit the shareholders, stakeholders and the country,” said Sheila Khama, the CEO of De Beers Botswana. “This project will take the relationship between De Beers and its partners to a new level and will enhance Botswana’s position as the leading producer of diamonds by value in the world.”
John Teeling, the Chairman of African Diamonds said, “We are excited about our first diamond mine in Botswana in partnership with De Beers and Wati Ventures. The Boteti joint venture also has other prospecting licences in Botswana and, through these, we hope to develop new mines in this country.”