The new owners of a controversial diamond mine in Botswana’s Kalahari Desert assured Basarwa on Thursday that it would consult with them over how it planned to develop the site.
After wrapping up the purchase of the Gope mine from De Beers in a 34 million dollar deal, Gem Diamonds said it respected a court judgment in December which ruled that hundreds of Basarwa were wrongly forced out from the Kalahari Game Reserve and could return home.
“A recent ruling by the Botswana High Court in favour of Basarwa applicants has confirmed their right to live in the central Kalahari reserve, the company said in a statement.”Gem Diamonds is committed to engaging with the representatives of Basarwa (Bushmen) and initial discussions with relevant NGOs have been held.”
The company added it had begun “a consultation process with all relevant stakeholders on how to sustainably develop Gope” and had commissioned an environmental impact study “to ensure environmental best practice is followed”.
De Beers, the world’s biggest diamond company, has insisted it decided to sell Gope because of disappointing yields, but supporters of the Bushmen attributed the sale to the court ruling, saying it could upset future plans.
Gem Diamonds, which is listed on the London Stock Exchange, said it was confident that the site contained “significant” deposits. “The kimberlite deposit at Gope represents a significant ore body. With the resource at an indicated level Gem Diamonds’ management believes the resource related risk to be low,” it said.