Botswana is ahead of its regional peers in diamond production and exports, figures from the Kimberley Process reveal.
The Kimberley Process (KP) is a joint government, industry and civil society initiative aimed at stemming the flow of conflict diamonds – rough diamonds used by rebel movements to finance wars against legitimate governments.
Some of the countries in the region that have diamond deposits and actively involved in exploration are: South Africa, Angola, Lesotho and Zimbabwe.
Through one of the country’s leading diamond companies, Debswana, Botswana has seen gradual growth partly spurred by improved investment in infrastructure and compliance with diamond trading standards.
One of the biggest mines run by Debswana is called Jwaneng Mine, about 200 kilometres from the country's capital, Gaborone. Jwaneng is regarded as the richest diamond mine in the world by value.
According to the General Manager of Debswana, Albert Milton, the world famous Jwaneng Mine produced about 11.3 million carats in 2014.
“This number went down by 14 per cent in 2015 to 9.8 per cent due to market related conditions,” he said. We invested about 24 billion pula ($2.2bn) in 2010 and we are positive of the outlook.”
The company, according to Milton, aims to raise its production levels to 20 million carats in 2016.
Debswana is owned by the government of Botswana and De Beers. The company falls under the De Beers Group of companies.
“Jwaneng Mine has about four kilometres of kimberlite pipes. Currently production is taking place at the pipe hole known as Cut 7 and soon they will be mining Cut 8,” said one of the company’s mine managers.
Diamonds are found in a belt of kimberlite rock.
“According to recent estimates, the mine’s life will last to 2050 but this is subject to changes as new discoveries are made every day. It is possible to wake up tomorrow and hear that the mine’s life has been moved to 2100,” added the manager.
De Beers’s senior Vice President, Nigel Simson, said the company was responsible for selling about 90 per cent of its rough diamonds.
“Ten per cent of the diamonds are sold through auction. As our season progress, we are expecting a slowdown partly due to the manufacturing cycle in India. The country will soon be on summer holidays,” said Simson.
India has the highest number of sight holders globally. According to Simson, their biggest consumer was the US followed by China.