The world’s richest mine
Jwaneng became fully operational in August 1982, when it was officially opened by the then President of Botswana, His Excellency Sir Ketumile Masire.
The mine, the richest diamond mine in the world by value, is the flagship of Debswana thanks to its substantially higher dollar per carat obtained for its gems. It contributes 60-70 per cent of Debswana’s total revenue.
The Jwaneng pipe was discovered in the Naledi River Valley ('Valley of the Stars') in Southern Botswana in 1972.
Currently, the mine is 400 metres deep and is expected to reach 624 metres by 2017.
There are three separate volcanic pipes, which erupted through Transvaal strata and the overlying Karoo sediments about 245 million years ago.
Production normally varies according to mining plans from about 12.5 million to 15 million carats per year. In 2014, Jwaneng produced 11,312,279 carats.
Within the boundaries of the Jwaneng mining lease area, there is Jwana Game Park, which measures 15,669 hectares and is home to around 1,700 animals. The park also hosts a field unit of Cheetah Conservation Botswana.
Debswana Diamond Company has embarked on a major investment of P24 billion over the next 14 years, one of the largest ever investments by the partnership between Debswana and the Government of the Republic of Botswana.
The expansion project, called Cut-8, will ensure continuous production until at least 2024. With Cut-8, the life of Jwaneng Mine will be extended by an additional seven years.
The scale of the expansion is huge, taking the 2.5km by 1.5km mine from a depth of 400 metres to 650 metres. In the last five years, 130 million tonnes of rock lying above the diamond-bearing ore have been removed, rising to a total of 500 million tonnes.
The project will extend the life of Jwaneng to at least 2033, providing access to about 91 million tonnes of ore, containing an estimated 110 million carats of mainly high quality diamonds.
During 2018, Cut-8 will become the main source of ore for Jwaneng. It is expected to contribute a total of US$28 billion (in 2014 prices) to Botswana’s economy and generate more than 1,000 jobs during the operational phase. In total, Cut-8 is projected to support more than 4,500 jobs per year, either directly or indirectly.
The extension will not only benefit the economy but also the local community: Jwaneng runs a major hospital, which treated 65,000 outpatients in 2014. Debswana has spent P2.2 million on expanding the hospital to cater for the increased number of people who have streamed to Jwaneng as a result of Cut-8.