De Beers SA’s Batswana geologists are to play a crucial role in the company’s operations across the Africa region as the global diamond supply/demand gap increasingly gets out of hand.
So far, DebotÔÇöthe De Beers SA’s geological hub, which is headquartered in Botswana, is placing a number of Batswana on exchange programmes, which are largely aimed at putting Batswana on the steering wheel.
Some of the star candidates who have gone through one of the world’s most testing programmes which includes the secondment to the potentially diamond rich areas of Canada, Kennedy Lake and Victor Kimberlite includes, the like of Malebogo Matlaleng, Masedi Otisitswe and Mothibedi Mothibedi.
“Look at Angola and DRC; there are more like virgin lands. And believe that Batswana geologist are now positioned in terms of helping out there,” Mothibedi Mothibedi said.
The two countries, which are internationally placed along Botswana as possible main resources by the diamond hunter-gatherers, such as De Beers, have been torn apart by prolonged periods of civil war and times spanning over a period of 30 years. And, the DRC is not yet totally woken up from the political risk stigma as it is still involved in some disputed general election results.
“Our office is a regional office and it is already helping out in Namibia and South Africa. One officer is due to go to Namibia to go and help out in the project management in Namibia next week,” he added.
De Beers SA, is involved in a prospecting exercise covering a swathe of land covering Xua XuaÔÇöin the north-western parts of Botswana ÔÇô spilling into Caprivi Strip, a piece of land sandwiched between Botswana in the south, Namibia in north-west, Zambia in the north and Zimbabwe in the east.
The project is a joint venture between NandebÔÇöthe equivalent of DebswanaÔÇöMutaba and Minex and Debot has being contracted to do the exploration and project management work.
“We still hold a lot of support because most of the people have a lot of confidence in Botswana,” he said, adding that the prevailing political stability and prudent financial management does well for the country.
The geologists have been put head to head with some of the international peers in the northern pole region to do some diamond exploration work in the icy waters of Canada. Varied in terms of years and the projects they were assigned to, their stories are almost the same because they were given the task of project management against a horde of their peers who were coming from different countries, such as Australia, Canada, New Zealand and South Africa.
“This sort of experience has placed De Beers’s geologists on a high and unique ground, and half the time those who are leaving the company are certainly promised to get a job with the next one,” Mothibedi said.
Out of the total number of Debot geologists there is only one who has been with the company for 16 years or more while the rest are on an average of four years. The rest have been a target of poaching by other mining houses.
Some of the challenges which they have been faced with have been to work on AK6 project which is expected to be upgraded to the level of a potential mine after a board meeting which is scheduled for mid-next month. The other projects in Canada, which they have led, have also been upgraded to the level of mines and they are expected to start operating by next year.