Gem Diamonds told a gathering of international diamond traders in Israel that it is moving ahead with its Botswana projectÔÇö from the central Kgalagadi Reserve (CKGR) ÔÇö aimed at adding another 1 million carats into the market.
The upcoming mid-tier miner said at the Israeli Diamond Conference in the resort city of Tel Aviv that it will use its US $ 1.2 billion to develop its resource in the CKGR which it bought from mining giant, De Beers, last year.
Clifford Elphick, Chief Executive of Gem Diamonds, said that the only thing that remains is the mining licence from the Department of Mines in Gaborone.
“We have already applied for the mining licence and, at the same time, we are doing the Environmental Impact Study, which, I hope, will be completed soon,” he told The Sunday Standard in an exclusive interview.
Elphick, former employee of the Oppenheimer family until the beginning of this century, started his business by buying former De Beers’ operations in Lesotho, namely Letsieng Mine. The mine, in which the Lesotho government holds 25 percent, is one of the world best mines in terms of carat quality, yielding around US $ 4000 per carat. However, the mine faces serious production impediments as it produces around 80,000 carats per annum, pushing it to a turn-over of about R 1 billion per annum.
The company is also eyeing some projects in Australia and Indonesia in an attempt to increase its stake within the world diamond business. It also has some exploration project in the DRC. The company does not subscribe to the supplier of choice, a De Beers ‘ designed marketing strategy currently accused by Lev Leviev’s Group as a “big boys’ exclusive club”.
“Gope is expected to produce 1 million carats but we are still far away from mining it. There are a number of challenges, such as the environmental impact study which will look at the issues of water supply. We do have water there but we want to ensure that it is enough. The other problem that we are facing is that of electricity supply,” he told Sunday Standard.
Gem Diamonds is also listed on London’s Alternative Investment Market (AIM).