Firestone Diamonds Plc, the London Stock Exchange quoted diamond exploration and mining company, bounced back into the headlines last week as it made two major developments┬á as it┬á edges closer to a secondary listing on the Botswana Stock Exchange (BSE).
The major developments include the confirmation of the awarding of the tailing treatment project┬á tender at Jwaneng MineÔÇöthe world’s most profitable mine ÔÇô and the application of mining licence for its BK 11 project near Orapa.
Debswana Diamond Company is to go ahead with the Jwaneng Modular Tailings Treatment Project, which will be carried out by Firestone Diamonds Plc who will “build, own and operate” the facility on behalf of Debswana.┬á
“The project was awarded to an ADP / Firestone partnership in 2008 after a formal tender process. However, implementation post award was delayed due to the global economic recession. The tailings, at the world’s richest diamond mine are estimated at over 30 million tons,“ Debswana said in a statement.
The developments┬á come at a time when the company is┬á about to embark on plans aimed at hoisting its image on the Botswana soil by listing on the BSE ahead┬á of the planned mine operation schedule for next year.
The tailing treatment project is expected to bolster the cash standing of the company by as much as US $ 150 million (just over P 860 million) as it is about to enter┬á another most expensive stage of mining and production.
“The modular tailings treatment project is critical for Debswana, as it will provide an opportunity to determine whether or not the modular concept can be used for other tailings resources within the company.
”An ADP / Firestone Diamonds partnership was selected as the preferred bidder in 2008 to supply, construct and operate a modular tailings treatment plant. Firestone are also responsible for the financing of the project. Construction of the plant is expected to commence in the first half of 2011 and full production of two million tons per annum to be reached in 2012,” Debswana added.
The company, which has cut its niche as one of the┬á major tailing treatment projects┬á within De Beers related operations will be involved with┬á a plan that is aimed at increasing value and life-span of the┬á Jwaneng mine.
Jwaneng mine is currently the center of attraction as it is also involved in the cut- eight exercise that is aimed at┬á increasing the value of shareholders and extending the life-span of the mine. The cut eight exercise is expected to cost as much as P 24 billion to come to completion.
Firestone is expecting to be awarded a mining licence for the BK 11 project anytime soon “since it has provided┬á all the necessary information” to department of mines.
BK 11 is near Orapa mineÔÇöjust┬á within the same vicinity to┬á African Diamonds’ AK 6ÔÇöin an area that has won the label of being the best diamond address in the world.
There are already three existing diamond mines in the areaÔÇöall owned and run by Debswana. The mines are: Damtshaa, Letlhakane and Orapa while African Diamonds is working on plans to open its AK 6 mine ÔÇô within the same area ÔÇö┬á by the end of next year .
Firestone┬á Diamonds, which is about to complete┬á its mine plant at the planned┬á mine,┬á will produce┬á 115, 000 carats of diamonds at full production┬á valued at an average of US $ 175 per carat.
The company has five other independent sites that are being pursued within the area┬á and ore from┬á those operations┬á will┬á be trucked┬á to BK 11 where it will be treated.
Firestone Diamonds has┬áspecific emphasis on Botswana and, to a certain extent, South Africa, the fourth┬á major┬á company to announce plans to list on BSE since the beginning of the year giving indications that the local economy might be emerging out of the worse economic downturn since┬á World War II.
The company has some exploration areas in Orapa, Jwaneng and Tsabong regions and its aim is to grow┬á them┬á while at the same time increasing shareholders value.
┬áPhillip Kenny, CEO of Firestone Diamonds said : “We are very pleased that Debswana has decided to move forward with the Jwaneng Tailings Project, for which Firestone was selected due to its track record in financing, building and operating diamond processing and toll treatment plants.┬á This project is a key component of our strategy of developing toll treatment opportunities to supplement our own mining operations at BK11 and the evaluation and development of our other kimberlites in the Orapa and Tsabong kimberlite fields.”