Debswana Diamond Company has allayed fears of job losses at the Letlhakane mine in the Orapa area as the company prepares to cease mining on the pit as it is drying up.
Concerns of imminent job losses came to the fore when information emerged that the life of the mine will be coming to end in 2016—putting the future of 386 employees into uncertainty.
However, Balisi Bonyongo, Managing Director of Debswana told a press conference on Friday that some of the employees will be absorbed at the adjacent Damtshaa mine, where there is ramp up of waste.
“We took employees from Letlhakane to Damtshaa as Letlhakane prepares to close pit and start treating tailings,” said Bonyongo, describing the Letlhakane diamonds as “nice and pretty” stones.
Debswana is closing the Letlhakane pit since ex-pit production from the mine has gone down. The mine used to produce 1 million carats at its peak, but the number has since declined. Equally, the mine has over the years amassed tailings that will be treated to produce diamonds.
“We are looking at extend the mine life to another 20 years,” added Bonyongo, who was previously the Mine Manager for Jwaneng mine, the world’s super pit.
Bonyongo told the media that construction of the Letlhakane Modular Tailings Plant started at the beginning of the year and, when complete it will be able to handle a total of 800,000 carats of diamonds every year.
It is expected that mining tailings would expand the life of the Letlhakane mine by another 20 years, which will be good news for the people of Boteti and the country at large. The Anglo American plc Interim Management Statement for the third quarter ended 30 September 2014 showed Jwaneng mine has recovered since the mine disaster that claimed the life of an employee in 2012. Anglo is the parent company of De Beers. The report showed that during the period Jwaneng led the pack at 3.3 million carats, followed by Orapa at 2.7 million; Letlhakane with 157, 000 and Damtshaa mine with 83, 000.
Debswana has promised to sweat its assets and derive value from assets within its lease area as the mining giant want to extend mining beyond the industry projections of 2030 to 2050.
“Our long term projections reveal a potential economic Life-of-Mine resource profile up to 2050 for the diamond resources within our leases,” Bonyongo told journalists. Damtshaa, the last born of Debswana’s mines, has 261 employees.