Monday, November 28, 2022

Gem Diamonds to start camp construction at Gope

Gem Diamonds, the London Stock Exchange listed outfit said it will begin camp construction for its Gope mine in Kgalagadi as it moves to develop the country’s most talked about and controversial mine.

In its annual report for the past year accompanying financial results, the company said setting up the camp is planned to commence during the second quarter of 2011.

This will be followed by mobilisation for the underground access, which is expected to begin in early third quarter of the year.

“Construction of the first phase of this exciting project will commence in 2011 and the mine will come into production in 2013,” Roger Davis Non-Executive Chairman of the mining outfit said.

“Once production has started, work will commence on the feasibility of the next expansion phase.”

Gem Diamonds acquired Gope Exploration Company from De Beers and Xstrata in May
2007 and the mine has been at the centre of international attention as it was linked to the controversial relocation of the Basarwa people from the CKGR.

The board of the company has approved underground mining model rather than the previously suggested open pit as the company wanted to eliminate costly overburden stripping of the open mining.

The company said the revised mine plan envisages a phased approach with a preliminary underground mine planned to provide early cash flow and improve the company’s knowledge ‘of the ore-body, diamond valuation and metallurgical characteristics’.

“A decline was determined as being the most cost effective access method, noting that excavating through Kalahari sand will present a number of challenges,” added the company headed by CEO Clifford Elphick.

The mine will also be built in the most sensitive area in the country and developers will also have to take into account the fact that it is a protected area.

However, Gem Diamonds has promised that it is cognisant of the environmental and social sensitivities of operating within the CKGR region.

“Gem Diamonds is committed to implementing a fully integrated life of mine rehabilitation plan from the outset in order to minimise any environmental impact of the mining operation and to develop a positive and long term sustainable legacy for the project-affected communities.”

Gem Diamonds also said construction of the processing plant will commence in the third quarter of 2012 and production will start in the third quarter of 2013, building up to 720 000 tonnes, producing 180 000 carats per annum in 2015.

Phase 1 of the mine development has a capital cost of US$85 million (about P547 million) of which US$22 million (about P146.7 milllion) has been committed for 2011.

It is expected that after an initial four year mining period, the mine will step up production output over a period of time to a steady state production of 3.4 million tonnes per annum, producing approximately 780 000 carats per annum.

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