Gem Diamond’s new and recently operational Ghaghoo diamond mine in Botswana was originally called Gope, meaning “nowhere”. Having officially entered into commercial production, the company is celebrating the specialist technical skillsets it injected into the project to overcome enormous logistical challenges. It now represents the changing future of diamond mining in Botswana, and beyond says CEO Clifford Elphick. Vicky Sidler reports from site.
The Ghaghoo diamond mine is located in an exceptionally remote area of the Central Kalahari Game Reserve, with a difficult 160 km dirt track connecting it to Lephepe, the nearest town. Its ore body boasts a total resource of 20.53 million carats at an in-situ value of US$ 4.9 billion, but is buried under some 80 vertical metres of sand overburden before competent rock is reached. The project was acquired in 2007 and has undergone significant development challenges and changes along the way, including a complete mine redevelopment plan and the subsequent necessity to ‘plough’ through geological complexities that made timeframe schedules difficult to meet.
“The logistical challenges have been huge,” Elphick explained at the official opening of the mine on 5 September. “The decline shaft, mill, recovery plant, staff camp and infrastructure are now working, delivering diamonds into a market hungry for the Ghaghoo product. The Botswana nation now has another mine which adds to its already very impressive list of existing operations.”