Friday, May 20, 2022

Ghaghoo Diamond finally opens

The Chief Executive Officer of Gem Diamonds, Clifford Elphick has talked of the challenges that developing Ghaghoo Mine entailed, especially following global recession that hit the entire world in 2008.

Elphick said financiers were most unwilling to commit their money towards developing a mine.

He said as a result the company was forced to ration capital and reduce costs to the bone.

This resulted in a decision to develop the mine in phases.

Ghaghoo Diamond Mine is one of the several owned by Gem Diamonds across the world.

Ghaghoo is however unique in that it is not only found in the belly of the Kalahari desert, but is also located in a pristine nature reserve where environmental and ecological concerns are very crucial.

Ghaghoo is inside the Central Kalahari Game Reserve.

But as it turned out the first phase of Ghaghoo Diamond Mine has been completed at a much reduced cost.

“Banks were unwilling to put money into mining following recession,” said Elphick.

He said as a result the mine opted to go underground instead of traditional open pit.

Open pit was prohibitive in that it would have entailed enormous costs of removing the sands of Kalahari before even reaching the kimberlite.

The technique pioneered by Ghaghoo mine is most likely to be a template for other mining operations in Botswana and Angola.

More importantly it will be useful in mining operations where footprint has to be kept to the bare minimum as is required by the Central Kalahari Game Reserve.

Talking about the quality of the diamonds found at Ghaghoo, Elphick said early signs are encouraging.

“We have not found another Jwaneng, but this mine is outstanding nonetheless,” he said.

He said all indications are that the quality of diamonds will be improving as mining progresses.

Gem Diamonds says they have been allowed by Botswana government a grace period to market their goods not just in Botswana but also outside.

Elphick said the company has its eyes o Antwerp, a Belgian town which is a leading global diamond centre.

“Eventually all marketing will be done from Botswana,” said Elphick

The challenge going forward for Gem Diamonds will be to attract buyers to an extent that they will be willing to come to Botswana to buy.

In his speech when officially opening the mine, President Ian Khama made it clear that Botswana government remained determined to turning the country into a truly global centre.

This said President Khama entailed, moving all aspects of the value chain into the country.

While most of Botswana diamonds are currently sold and polished from Botswana, other more downstream activities like manufacturing and retail are still to find rood.

President Khama said his government is determined to establishing those too.

On another note, Elphick made mention of the three employees who lost their lives during the early stages of developing the mine.

They are Opelo Mmolai, Mogakolodi Monthe and Segolame Mashumba.

He said Gem Diamonds will never forget the three who paid the ultimate price.

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