The launch of the multi-billion Pula Cut 8 project in Jwaneng is expected to maintain the status of the Debswana as the richest diamond mine by value in the world, it was revealed on Friday.
At a cost of P24 billion, the project will be the single largest costly project ever undertaken by the company, which is 50/ 50 owned by Botswana government and De Beers.
Botswana President Ian Khama added that Cut 8 showcases Botswana’s economic capacity and potential to undertake a project the size of Cut 8 during recessionary times. ┬á
“This capacity was created by the very diamonds we are celebrating today and the manner in which my predecessors presided over the prudent use of the revenues that were generated,” said Khama, who became the president in 2008.
“These same diamonds have contributed to transforming Botswana from an under developed country in 1966 to the middle income status of today,” he added.
The costly and technologically challenging Cut 8, which will equally require new sets of skills when complete, will bring about 1400 workers to Jwaneng on top of 2500 employees currently employed by the mine.
Cut 8, which is expected to cost about P24 billion over a period of 16 years, with the figure being inclusive of all project capital, mining fleet capital, sustaining capital and all working costs, has extended the life span of the Jwaneng mine until 2025.
Nicky Oppenheimer, chairman of the Debswana board, said over four dollars out of every five generated by Debswana goes into the public purse in Botswana, therefore advised that Batswana should know that the revenues realised by the Cut 8 project will boost Botswana’s economy.
“It is worth pausing for a moment to consider the sheer size and scale of the investment which we celebrate today. P24 billion represents not just the single largest investment in the history of Debswana, but also the single largest investment in Botswana’s history,” said Oppenheimer.
When awarding tenders to different contractors in relation to the project, companies were advised to give first priority to citizens’ in terms of employment opportunities, Blackie Marole, outgoing Debswana MD, revealed.┬á
“Debswana shareholders should be commended for being brave enough to sign off a project in a year where it was difficult for any one project to survive, look where the project is today,” said Marole.┬á┬á┬á ┬á
Cut 8 will prolong the mine life of Jwaneng to 2025 and secure 102 million more carats while Cut 9, which is at a prefeasibility stage, will take the mine to 2030.
The project will, however, not increase the amount of diamond produced, but will enable the mine to continue its current production levels.
Currently, the Debswana operation produces 15 million carats a year.
The Cut 8 waste mining is being done by Basil Read, a South African mining contractor.
Waste mining is currently being done to remove 20 million tonnes at the mine this year alone, which contributes 70 percent of Debswana revenues.