Gem Diamonds, the developers of Ghaghoo project in the CKGR, said the mine is going ahead as planned and it remains on target for commercial production in the second quarter of the year. The company has been stockpiling ahead of commissioning of the process plant since it hit a kimberlite last November.??The London listed company through Gem Diamonds Botswana, its 100 percent wholly-owned subsidiary, faced a raft of problems when it started mine construction at the first underground mine in the country, but now there is light at the end of the tunnel as it is aims to be the first company to produce diamonds out of the controversial game reserve.??“The development of the Ghaghoo mine is progressing well and commencement of commercial production remains on schedule for H2 2014,” said Gem Diamonds in its Interim Management Statement (IMS) for the Period 1 January 2014 to 9 May 2014.
It added that kimberlite was intersected in the first production tunnel on level one in early May and drilling of the first (of three) ventilation holes was completed.??“The second ventilation hole is 80 percent complete and should reach its planned depth of 154 metres during May 2014. The drill pad for the third hole has been completed. Plant commissioning is progressing satisfactorily,” it added.??The company said as at 31 March 2014, US$ 76.3 million (about P661.7 million) of the total capital budget of US$ 96.0 million (about P832.6 million) had been spent. Apart from defying the CKGR politics, Ghaghoo presented challenges for?Gem Diamonds as the contractors had to deal with excavating of the Kalahari sands. The First Phase of the project entailed stripping and excavating a box cut to a depth of 25m on the loose Kalahari sand then excavating through the sand using an Open Face Tunnel Shield (OFTS).
OFTS was equipped with a canopy to protect workers as they excavated the loose sand.??The group also recorded a fatality at the project as on 11 January 2014 a fall of ground incident occurred in Level 0 of the underground development at Ghaghoo, which resulted in a fatality and was the only lost time injury recorded for the Group during Q1 2014, resulting in a Lost Time Injury Frequency Rate (LTIFR) for the Group of 0.17. Zero major stakeholder or environmental incidents have occurred in Q1 2014.?Gem Diamonds also owns a production mine, the Let┼íeng in Lesotho, where it holds 70 percent shareholding in partnership with the Government of the Kingdom of Lesotho which owns the remaining 30 percent. During the period, the company said in accordance with the mine plan, Let┼íeng’s operational performance in Q1 2014 exceeded Q1 2013 in all aspects and continued with the good performance achieved in Q4 2013.??During Q1 2014, waste stripping increased due to the shorter haul distance on the new cutback that commenced in January 2014.
“Planned tonnages and carats recovered were exceeded in Q1 2014, however, power outages at the beginning of Q1 2014 and a two day delay resulting from a failure of the vertical conveyor in Plant 2, led to a decrease in treated tonnes against Q4 2013. The reduced tonnes treated in Q1 2014, as well as the planned reduction in the proportion of satellite ore treated in Q1 2014 compared to Q4 2013, resulted in a 4 percent decline in carats recovered during Q1 2014 against Q4 2013,” said the company.??During the Period, Let┼íeng held three tenders for its rough diamonds, which achieved an average value of US$ 2 723 per carat, bringing the 12 month rolling average to US$ 2 383 per carat. A total of 17 exceptional rough diamonds achieved prices greater than US$ 1.0 million during the period.??“As previously reported two large +100 carat rough diamonds (a 162.02 carat type II diamond and a 161.31 carat type I diamond) achieved top prices, in accordance with their respective colour, clarity and shape at Let┼íeng’s February tender. The 162.02 carat diamond sold for US$ 11.1 million (US$ 68 687 per carat) and the 161.31 carat sold for US$?2.4 million (US$ 14 636 per carat),” said Gem Diamonds.