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Diamond Mines of the World: Botswana

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Botswanan Diamond Mines

Article Copyright © 2009 AllAboutGemstones.com

The Republic of Botswana (Bantu/Tswana: Lefatshe la Botswana, formerly Bechuanaland), is a landlocked nation of southern Africa, and a relatively wealthy African country which has enjoyed one of the fastest per-capita income growth rates in the world during the 1990s (IMF data). Botswana's prosperity is due primarily to its booming ego-tourism industry within the Okavango Delta (below, right), Kalahari Game Reserve, and to its most valuable asset - the Jwaneng diamond mine.

The Jwaneng Diamond Mine is located in south-central Botswana, about 100 miles west of the city of Gaborone, in the Naledi river valley of the Kalahari Desert. Jwaneng, meaning "a place of small stones," is one of the richest diamond mine in the world, when measured by the aggregate value of recovered diamonds. The mine began operations in 1982, and is co-owned by De Beers and the Botswanan government under the name "Debswana Diamond Company."

Map of Botswana

   Okavango Delta

Okavango Delta (Photo: Public Domain)

Jwaneng is an open-pit mine that is dug over three kimberlite pipes that all converge near the surface. The mine has a very high extraction rate, producing 9.3 million tons of kimberlite ore per year, at a ratio of 1.25 carats of diamond per ton of ore. In 2003, the mine produced 14.3 million carats of rough, high-quality diamonds. As of 2005, known reserves are estimated to produce at the current level for another 27 years.

The Jwaneng mine employs over 2,100 workers, many who are indigenous Tswana (Motswana), Botswana's largest ethnic group. Jwaneng is the first Botswanan mine to receive ISO 14001 certification for environmental compliance, and the mine has maintained a 5-star NOSA safety rating since 1986 (2006 data). The mine has won multiple national and international safety awards since its inception.

Chobe National Park Botswana

Chobe National Park (Photo: Public Domain)

   Jwaneng Diamond Mine

Jwaneng Diamond Mine (Photo: Public Domain)

Botswana gained its independence in 1966 and has had strong ties to the economy of South Africa for several decades. Botswana's history of diamond mining is commemorated on the 100 Pula bank note (below).

Botswanan Pula Bank Notes

There are three additional diamond mines of significance in Botswana. The Lethakane Mine ("little reeds") open pit mine is the second oldest of Botswana's four mines. The Orapa Mine ("resting place for lions") open-pit mine is the oldest of Botswana's mines, located along the 'Orapa Kimberlite Track,' near the boarder with Zimbabwe. The Damtshaa Mine ("water for a tortoise") open pit mine is the other significant mine in Botswana.

Botswana's AK6 Diamond Mine

De Beers is expecting to have Botswana's first new diamond mine in nearly 26 years, operational by 2008. The AK6 kimberlite deposit is expected to produce up to 1.5 million carats a year.

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Bibliography on Namibia Diamonds

1. Trans Hex, The Trans Hex Group

2. Namdeb Mining Operations . www.namdeb.com

3. DFI, History of Mining on the Namibian Coast . www.diamondfields.com

4. Travel Africa, Namibia: The Legacy of the Desert Towns . www.travelafricamag.com

5. Namibian.com, Samicor starts diamond exports . www.namibian.com.na

6. Mining Technology, New Techniques in Mining Technology . SPG Media Group PLC

7. George E. Harlow, The Nature of Diamonds . Cambridge University Press

8. Namibia, Namibia Government Website . www.grnnet.gov.na

9. Namibia MME, Geological Survey of Namibia . www.mme.gov.na

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