Debswana Mining Company is set to commission the Letlhakane Mine tailings project at the end of the second quarter of 2017, group Managing Director Balisi Bonyongo has said.
This comes after the diamond pits at the mine reached depths that limit conventional open pit mining, forcing management to initiate the tailings treatment project in October 2011 as a way of alleviating job losses and ensuring future sustainability.
Addressing key stakeholders in the capital Gaborone on Tuesday, Bonyongo said that the construction of the P2.1-billion project was kick-started in 2015, a move that could see the lifespan of the said mine extended by at least 20 more years.
According to Bonyongo, through the new technology that will be used at the mine, Debswana will be able to produce at least 800 000 carats per annum.
Bonyongo further said that through the project, the company had been able to save hundreds of jobs. Concerns of imminent job losses came to the fore when information emerged that the lifespan of the Letlhakane Mine will be coming to end an in 2016 – – putting the future of 386 employees in uncertainty.
On the company’s market outlook, Bonyongo said that macro-economic conditions underpinning consumer demand for diamonds remain broadly stable.
“Midstream stocks returned to more typical levels in 2016. Rough diamond demand is expected to normalise in 2017,” Bonyongo stated.
Meanwhile, Debswana says it continues to produce to demand by maximising production at its core assets and scaling down on its lower margin assets.
“For this reason Damtshaa Mine remains on Care and Maintenance,” Bonyongo highlighted.
Damtshaa Mine is Debswana’s youngest diamond mine, opened in 2003. The mine was put on Care and Maintenance beginning January 2016 because of deterioration in the diamond markets as a result of unprecedented slow movement of diamond inventory throughout the entire pipeline.
In 2014, just under two years before it was temporarily closed, Damtshaa Mine extracted 3 800 849 tonnes of ore, treated 1 464 100 tonnes and recovered 303 219 carats
Since the second quarter of 2015, Debswana has been experiencing a significant reduction in the sale of rough diamonds due to weak demand as a result of a global macro- economic slowdown and the strengthening of the US Dollar which have put liquidity pressures on cutting and polishing centres.