Jwaneng Diamond Mine, the country’s richest mine by value, has embarked on plans aimed at extending the life-span of the open pit mine beyond 2017, as it prepares for cut eight, which will increase open pit life by a further seven years.
The mine’s General Manager, Balisi Bonyongo, told a breakfast seminar aimed at sharing the mine’s plans with the surrounding communities and political leaders last Friday, that they are further looking at going beyond cut eight.
“The question is: can we go beyond cut eight?
“Beyond 2024, we will still be having the resource to mine, but the thing is whether it is going to be open pit or underground,” he said.
The extension of the mine to cut eight will bring business opportunities to the township but the mine will be faced with a raft of challenges that will have to be confronted before 2010.
According to the mine’s technical manager, Rodger Thusi some of the challenges that they will have to deal with include the expansion of existing infrastructure, schools, regional electricity shortages, global tires shortage , the need of more water and the building of new roads.
The expansion project is expected to see the number of earthmoving equipment going up fourfold.
“If we do not do anything we will run out of ore by 2017. There is going to be a lot of mining waste around 2010,” Thusi, who is in charge of the cut eight expansion project, said.
Jwaneng is the world’s richest mine and any move to go underground soon will have some adverse impact on the global diamond industry as there are very few mines in the world with gem quality that it has. Further, it would change the landscape in the diamond business where Botswana has always been regarded as the low cost diamond mining production to high cost operation.
The cost per ton in Botswana is around US $ 8.00 while in other countries, including Russia, it is as high as US $ 45 .00 per ton.
That would have some effects on the mine’s corporate social investments programmes, which the communities around the mine have been enjoying.
The mine invests P 1.2 million per annum in areas of education, health, environmental management and general community project.
“This year, we partnered with Habitat for humanity to build affordable shelter for the less fortunate and vulnerable at a cost of P 800 000,” Boyongo said.
The mine also spent P 622 million in 2007 on contractors based in Botswana who are supplying services to the mine and out of that P122 million went to citizen wholly-owned companies.
Victoria Lekoma, the mine finance manager also responsible for local business development, said since the mine started to farm out non core activities to private companies, they have been able to lure foreign direct investors into the country.
“We split our spending between citizen owned companies and Botswana based companies,” she said, adding that now 74 percent of goods and services are now sourced locally.
The Jwaneng Mine treats 30,000 patients annually ÔÇô including those from the surrounding areasÔÇöat a cost of over P 40 million.