Jwaneng Diamond Mine: The Richest Diamond Mine in the World
The World's Richest Diamond Mine
Located in Southern Africa, in the country of Botswana, is the world’s richest diamond mine- The Jwaneng Diamond Mine.
The Jwaneng diamond mine is located in a town that also carries the name Jwaneng. In concordance with the source of its wealth, Jwaneng means “a place of small stones”.
Jwaneng was discovered in 1972 by De Beers prospectors, and is owned by a company called Debswana- a partnership between De Beers and the government of Botswana.
Debswana or Debswana Diamond Company Limited was established on June 23 1969. Initially called De Beers Botswana Mining Company, Debswana is a joint venture between Botswana’s government and De Beers Diamond Company. By value, Debswana is the world’s leading producer of diamonds. Debswana owns and operates four diamond mines:
- Damtshaa diamond mine (opened in 2003)
- Jwaneng diamond mine (opened in 1982)
- Letlhakane diamond mine (opened in 1975)
- Orapa diamond mine (opened in 1971)
Combined, these four companies have produced over 30 million carats of diamond, which equates to almost one quarter of the world’s annual production of diamonds.
On a global scale, the diamonds produced by Debswana yield the highest value per weight. Hence, Debswana Diamond Company Limited has received international acclaim for being the leading producer of valuable diamonds in the world.
History of Jwaneng diamond mine
Although diamond- mining in Botswana began in the early 1970’s, the country became a significant world producer of diamonds only after the Jwaneng Diamond Mine was opened.
In 1972, miners from De Beers Company discovered the diamond bearing pipe at the location of the Jwaneng Diamond mine. After years of negotiation, in 1978, the government of Botswana signed an agreement to develop the mine.
On August 14th1982, the Jwaneng Diamond mine was officially opened by Sir Ketumile Masire- the president of Botswana at that time.
Geology of Jwaneng diamond mine
Jwaneng lies in south- central Botswana, on the fringes of the Kgalagadi desert. It is located 160kn southwest of the Gaborone, and 80km west of the capital of the Bangwaketse district, Kanye Village.
The Jwaneng diamond mine sits atop the convergence of three kimberlite pipes: diamond- rich geological formations (see below). These pipes cover 128.5 acres at ground level, and meet just below the earth’s surface. Hence, the diamonds are mined from an open pit, and not from an underground tunnel.
The kimberlite pipes at Jwaneng intruded shales of the Transvaal Supergroup about 150 million years ago, and are older than most kimberlites in southern Africa. They are filled with crater- facies material to a depth of 600m. The dominant infill is reworked with volcaniclastic kimberlite, but each pipe exhibits a distinct geology and diamond grade signature. In 2004, the existence of a fourth pipe was revealed.
Mining at Jwaneng Diamond Mine
Since its inception in 1982, mining at Jwaneng takes place every day of the week, at all of the three kimberlite pipes.
Some of the equipment used at the Jwaneng diamond mine include rotary drills and large shovels- either electric where grid power is available or diesel / hydraulic where it is not; dozers; wheeled loaders; and a variety of Caterpillar and Komatsu haul trucks. The truck dispatch is operated by computer-based systems. The mine production and management systems at Jwaneng utilize integrated mining software provided by Gemcom.
Treatment and Processing at Jwaneng Diamond Mine
In the mid-1990s Debswana introduced in-pit crushing at Jwaneng. Following secondary crushing, dense-medium cyclones separate 99% of the waste from the diamonds. Tailings from this process are recrushed and recycled..
The diamond recovery takes place in a state-of-the-art completely automated recovery plant (CARP). The plant is completely hands- off and maximizes diamond security while optimizing recovery through the use of the latest x- ray machine technologies.
The Jwaneng CARP is part of the Aquarium project, which reached full capacity during 2003 and added the Fully Integrated Sort House to handle the diamonds recovered by both CARPs. The Aquarium project was De Beers' first fully hands-off recovery and sorting facility, utilizing X-ray and laser technology.
Production at Jwaneng Diamond Mine
In 2008 Jwaneng produced 13.674 million carats from 15.766 tons treated, and in 2009 Jwaneng produced 9.04 million carats from 6.06 million tons treated. Production normally varies according to the mining plans of approximately 12.5 to 15 million carats per year. With the global economic recession, 2009 was still considered to be an exceptional year in that production was reduced in line with demand for diamonds from the DTC (Diamond Trading Company) sight holders.
The Town of Jwaneng
About 11 kilometers from the Jwaneng Mine, is the town of Jwaneng. The status of being called a “town” was given to Jwaneng in 1984.
Around the same time the town of Jwaneng was established, a Town Council was set up. The Town Council has seven elected councilors and one member nominated by the Minister of Local Government. One responsibility of these councilors is to elect a Mayor for the town of Jwaneng.
The Town Council provides a range of social and community- related services; and water, electricity and telecommunication facilities are provided by parastatal bodies.
The town of Jwaneng, with a growing population of 18,000 has schools, a hospital, an airport and the usual infrastructure of a modern town.
Within the boundaries of the Jwaneng mining lease, The Jwana Game Park can be found. The park hosts a Cheetah Conservation Botswana field unit, and Lappet-faced Vultures, which are globally threatened, are also found.
In support of the National Strategy for the Conservation of Endangered Rhino Population, two white Rhinos were introduced from the Khama Sanctuary in November 2007.
Jwaneng and Botswana’s economy
Mining is the largest contributor to the Botswana’s GDP.
The returns from Jwaneng’s diamond mine have contributed to the development of physical and social infrastructure such as roads, water supplies, electricity, telecommunications, health facilities, schools and human capital.
Funds generated from Jwaneng’s diamond mine have also been used to support Government’s HIV/AIDS programs, including the provision of free antiretroviral therapy to citizens.
In Botswana, diamond revenue contributes 50% of public revenue, 33% of GDP and 70% of foreign exchange earnings. Jwaneng Mine contributes 60 – 70% of Debswana’s total earnings.
Jwaneng's Environmental Compliance and Protection
The Jwaneng diamond mine complies with international standards for environmental management systems. The implementation of international standards ensures that the impacts of the mine’s activities on the environment are carefully evaluated and managed. To achieve this, Jwaneng Mine has established an effective Environmental Management System that provides for systematic management of all environmental impacts of their operations. The Environmental Management System places emphasis on:
- water conservation
- dust monitoring
- power management
- land usage management
- pollution prevention
- waste management
The Jwaneng diamond mine spends about US$400 000 per year on the upkeep of the Jwana Game Park. The reserve was established in 1994 and is the result of a conservation effort with the objective to conserve existing free roaming game in the area.
The park, which measures 19 000 hectares, accommodates about 1 700 animals. Visitors to the park include education groups from schools, the University of Botswana and wildlife clubs.
The park also hosts Cheetah Conservation Botswana which provides a base for research on the conflict between endangered cheetah and livestock.
Cut 8 – The extension of Jwaneng Diamond Mine
In November 2009 the shareholders of Debswana approved an extension project at Jwaneng. The project, also known as Cut 8 will secure approximately 95 million more carats and extend the life of the mine out to 2025. This investment ensures continuity of supply from the world’s richest diamond mine, and could be worth in excess of $15 billion over the life of the mine.
The Cut 8 project represents the largest ever investment in Botswana and is expected to create more than 1000 jobs and yield 100 million carats over the life of the mine.The project is expected to further strengthen Botswana’s local economy and transform Jwaneng Mine into one of the world's few super-pit mines.
Work on the Cut-8 extension project commenced in 2010.