Tuesday, June 10, 2008

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Botswana is the world's leading producer of gem quality diamonds. The diamond industry accounted for 83 per cent of export earnings within the country. Diamond production in Botswana is dominated by Debswana − the world's leading producer of gem diamonds − a joint venture company owned by De Beers Investments (50 per cent) and the Government of Botswana (50 per cent). The Jwaneng diamond mine is located in south-central Botswana about 170 km (110 miles) west of the city of Gaborone, in the Naledi River Valley of the Kalahari.

Jwaneng is an open pit mine, dug over three kimberlite pipes that converge near the surface covering 520 000 square metres at ground level. The mine operates medium- to very large-scale seven−day week operations and boosts a very high extraction rate, producing 9.3 million tons of kimberlite ore per year at a ratio of 1.25 carats of diamond per ton. The mine produces 9.3 million tons per year of ore and an additional 37 million tons per year of waste rock. The high rate of diamond extraction, combined with high quality diamonds fetching excellent per weight prices, make the Jwaneng diamond mine the richest diamond mine in the world by value of recovered diamonds.

The image of 1973 shows no signs of mining activity. The 2006 image shows the large footprint the Jwaneng has made on the landscape since then - roughly 8 kilometers from end to end.

Apart from being the richest diamond mine, the Jwaneng mine owns and operates a local hospital and airport and has maintained a 5 star NOSA safety rating since 1986. With over 2100 employees, the Jwaneng mine is also the first Botswana company to receive ISO 14001 certification in 2000, for environmental compliance. The mine has won multiple national and international safety awards since its inception.

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