Clifford Elphick, the trail-blazing managing director of the sensitive mining area in the world sounded warning bells to the world as it indicated that it is planning to open its Gope mineÔÇöin the Central Game Reserve (CKGR) in 2011.
Gem Diamonds has an eco-friendly mining programme at Letseng mine in Lesotho which happens to be its most profitable mine in its nine portfolio mines in the world.
“Our scoping report has been accepted by government and we submitted another report on June 16,” Haile Mphusu, the chief executive officer for Gope mine said, adding that they have completed the feasibility study for the project.
“The mining construction should start early next year and we are confident that the mining licence would be issued within the next six months to twelve months,” Mphusu said.
Gope mine is scheduled to produce about 1 million carats per annum with a life-span of 17 years bolstering Botswana’s position as the premier diamond producer in the world.
“Our preferred sales process is the tender system. We will have a combination of systems including direct sales and the most competitive tender.
“I think we are walking on similar road with governmet,” Elphick added.
Elphick, as miner and very conservative environmentalist, has managed to come at a time when De Beers are embroiled in a very unhealthy dispute over the AK6 proposed diamond mining project.
Tempers were flying out this week with each party threatening to buy out the other while, at the same time, government is in supportive of the parallel trading system. Gem Diamonds has put together 80 clients across the globe who are fighting for its gemstones at every auction.
“We have received an overwhelming support that we we were given during our consultation report with the stakeholders. WE do have a background of operating in a sensitive area and we understand that we have to look after the environment,” Elphick said.
Gem Diamonds has operations in a number of countries, including Angola, Australia, Central African Republic, DRC and Indonesia apart from Botswana.
The Gope mine operation is expected to be unique in the sense that people will have to spend about two weeks away from the camp and the rest with their families. The model is borrowed from two countries, Australia and Lesotho, where it has been in operation for some years.
“It is very appropriate to do that in (a sensitive area like) a game reserve,” he said.