London, England — MININGREVIEW.COM — 20 October 2010 – Debswana “’ the diamond mining group equally owned by De Beers and the government of Botswana “’ says it has commenced prefeasibility studies to extend the lifespan of its flagship Jwaneng mine “’ the world’s richest known resource of the gemstone “’ beyond 2024.
A De Beers statement issued here said the envisaged extension, which would be known as Cut 9, might prolong the life of the open pit, 350m deep mine up to 2030.
Debswana general manager: projects, planning and technical services Steve Axcell said the group hadn’t ruled out the possibility of converting operations to underground mining. This was unlikely, however, as current projects would be significantly compromised should underground mining infrastructure be put in place.
“We are sunshine miners,” said Axcell. “We still have to do our sums, but we will need a lot of new expertise to assist with underground operations.”
Should Cut 9 proceed as an open cast project, the mine’s depth would be extended to about 850m. The group is expected to make a final decision on Cut 9 by 2013.
Meanwhile, Jwaneng general manager Balisi Bonyongo expressed confidence that the mine could maintain costs at current levels when its Cut 8 project moved into full operating capacity by around 2017.
The Cut 8 project “’ commissioned in February to extend the mine’s lifespan from 2017 to 2024 “’ would increase the mine’s depth to around 624m. However, the group would have to remove three times the amount of waste to get the same quantity of diamonds.
Jwaneng usually contributes about 15 million carats to Debswana’s average annual output of about 30 million carats, which is the single largest source of rough diamonds in the world.