Jwaneng underground mine is forecast to produce as much as 9 million carats per year, extending the current operation’s lifespan by 20 years.
Debswana’s board is yet to make a final decision on how to finance the project, one of several executed since Jwaneng opened in 1982. The last expansion cost 24 billion pula (just over $2.2bn) and transformed the operation into one of the world’s largest open-pit diamond mines.
Jwaneng is critical to De Beers as it contributes nearly half the carats the company produces a year. In 2020, Jwaneng yielded 7.5 million carats of the group’s 2020 output of 25.1 million carats.
The mine produced 3.2 million carats in the first three months of 2021, De Beers said on Thursday, which is equivalent to 41% of the miner’s total production for the quarter.
Botswana, which is used to having an influx of international diamond buyers from Mumbai and Antwerp and traders from China, recently decided to close its Damtshaa diamond mine for three years.
The government said at that time that weak demand and trading disruptions caused by the ongoing global pandemic triggered the decision.
Debswana provides the country with around two-thirds of its foreign exchange and contributes a fifth of its GDP.
(With files from Bloomberg)