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Jwaneng mine transitions

19 Mar 2023

The world’s richest diamond mine by value, Jwaneng mine, is envisaged to commence underground operations in April 2024. The transition from an open pit to underground mining is estimated to extend the mine’s lifespan to 2052.

Jwaneng Mine acting general manager, Mr Goitseone Gadifele told Gaborone councillors during a mine tour on Friday that even though the current open pit model had generated a cumulative P400 billion over the 40 years of operation, it was now becoming non-economic, hence the need for the transition.

“All along we have been operating an open pit mine but we are now transitioning to underground because we keep reviewing our business case. Our pits are becoming deeper and as such they are becoming uneconomic, so we want to optimise and continue to run this operation at an economic value,” he said.

Mr Gadifele allayed fears of retrenchments emanating from the transition, saying instead more jobs would be created in the process. He said plans were underway to upgrade some of the young employees to equip them with skills necessary for underground mining.

“Nobody is going to lose their job as we transition, we are even going to create more jobs. Our key focus area is skills development, so we are looking at the skills gap, our current employees’ capabilities and potential with the aim to invest in their education and equip them with underground mining skills,” he explained.

Additionally, he said, they were planning for establishment of viable and economic activity that could sustain communities around Jwaneng township post the mine closure. He revealed that following expert advice, they were mobilising farmers around the area to venture into sheep farming, with a potential to export to external markets in the future.

Mr Gadifele also said Debswana was empowering small and medium businesses in preparation to diversify the country’s economy beyond diamond mining. 

He said in an endeavour to promote citizen economic empowerment, 99 per cent of Jwaneng mine contractors were citizen-owned.

“We are doing that deliberately because we want to encourage Batswana to run their businesses such that even without diamonds, we can eventually start exporting skills to the rest of the world,” he said.

For his part, Gaborone City Council (GCC) mayor, Mr Austin Abraham said as part of the Mayor’s Roadmap, they were looking into forging partnerships with various stakeholders with the intention to develop and improve the city. 

He said they were impressed by Jwaneng Mine operations, which had maintained them as the country’s economic mainstay.

He also said the GCC would embark on a benchmarking exercise to improve internal roads within Gaborone. 

“We have realised that there are no dusty roads within the mine because they use dust suppressant. We have therefore made a decision to send our civil engineers to Jwaneng Mine to benchmark on this technique,” he noted.

Itumeleng ward councillor, Ms Motamma Horatius said the tour was an eye-opener for them as community leaders who had the responsibility to link people with giant operations such as Debswana. 

She said work ethic at Jwaneng Mine could be used as a reference point for government entities, including the GCC. 

She encouraged women to exploit opportunities that may arise as a result of the mine’s transition to underground operations.

“Even though women are making strides in taking up certain positions as some are driving big machines around the mine, I encourage them to take up space in male dominated fields because they have the capacity,” she said. Ends

Source : BOPA

Author : kehumile moekejo

Location : Jwaneng

Event : Tour

Date : 19 Mar 2023