Gem Diamonds Botswana has put smiles on shareholders’ faces following revelations that the company’s mine in the CKGR will start production on time after it struck a kimberlite late last year.
The Ghaghoo has a diamond resource of 20.5 million carats, with an in-situ value of US$ 4.6 billion (about P41.5 billion) and the November 2013 discovery will boost investor confidence that the mine is in line for June production.
According to the company, the kimberlite was hit at level zero which is 130m below the surface and this has improved interest among the stakeholders into the project as well as the team’s ability to deliver on the project.
Mining Manager, Modise Gaoetswe, said their target is to advance the tunnel to 154m below the surface by end of February 2014 then develop production tunnels in preparation for production in June 2014.
The company have now started stockpiling Kimberlite from Level 0 which will be used for commissioning the Process Plant in April 2014 and Gaoetswe said the main objective of accessing the Kimberlite pipe at level zero (130ml) was to get further down to 140ml to dewater and make safe the old De Beers workings ahead of commencement of production on the 154ml. He added that Level 0 will be used for training of the mining teams and Ring Blasting trials in preparation for production in June 2014.
General Manager of Ghaghoo Diamond Mine, Kavis Kario, celebrated the achievement of what he termed a “super team” of young Batswana who are keen on delivering the project.
“Some of these people are the same men who dug the 473m tunnel using hand shovels and they are determined to see the first diamond being produced and we are indebted to them as they have shown unparalleled commitment to duty,” said Kario.
“The beauty of this project is not just working in the difficult CKGR conditions, but pioneering an underground diamond mine using drilling and rock support methods that many of our team members have not used before. Yet, the team has adapted very well and finished 2013 with a very commendable safety record of just one first aid case,” he added.
Ghaghoo, the first underground diamond mine to be developed in Botswana, is expected to produce 720 000 tons per annum at 30 carats per 100 tons, a production rate which could increase depending on the market and economics. 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.
In July last year, Redpath Mining, a mining construction company handed over the project to Gem Diamonds Botswana after constructing a 479 m tunnel with an 8 degree incline at the depth of 80m below the ground. Since the handover, Gem Diamonds Botswana has done a 684.3m development with 438.8m metres of it being the extension of the underground tunnel.
However, on a said note, subsequent to this report being compiled a tragic fatal accident occurred in the early hours of the morning of January 11 and in which one of our employees, Segolame Mashumba (26), tragically lost his life. The Inspector of Mines has conducted an enquiry and we await his report in this regard. Permission was, however, granted by the Inspector to resume mining operations.