Botswana - One of the World's Largest Diamond Producers

. A relatively wealthy African country, it is home to some of the largest diamond mines in the world.

Botswana Mines

Botswana is one of the leading producers of gem quality diamonds in the world. There are four significant active diamonds mines in Botswana: Orapa, Lethlhakane, Damtshaa and Jwaneng.

The oldest mine, Orapa ("resting place for lions"), is the largest diamond mine in the world by area. Orapa began production in July 1971, and produced 17.3 million carats of recovered diamonds in 2006.

The second oldest mine is the Letlhakane ("little reeds") mine, which is situated 50 km from Orapa mine. This mine was opened in 1975 and produced 1.089 million carats of recovered diamonds in 2006.

The third mine is Damtshaa, which is a group of four small diamond pipes that were discovered in an area 20km east of the Orapa kimberlite pipe.

Damtshaa ("water for a tortoise") mine was officially opened on 2003, and 228,000 carats were recovered there in 2006.

The fourth mine is the famous Jwaneng mine, which is the richest of these mines and one of the largest diamond mines in the world.

The Jwaneng Mine

Jwaneng ("a place of small stones") is the richest diamond mine in the world when measured by value of recovered diamonds. The Jwaneng Diamond Mine is located in south-central Botswana, about 100 miles west of the city of Gaborone.

The mine was officially opened in 1982 as an open pit mine dug over three kimberlite pipes that converge near the surface. The mine has 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.

In 2003, the mine produced 14.3 million carats of rough, high-quality diamonds. As of 2005, known reserves will produce at current levels for 27 more years.

In 2006, Jwaneng produced 15.6 million carats. In the coming years, production will vary according to the mining plans of approximately 12.5 to 15 million carats per year. This excellent rate of recovery, combined with the very high quality of the diamonds, continues to make Jwaneng Mine the richest diamond mine in the world, by value.

In 10 years, Jwaneng Mine is planning to move from open-cast mining into underground operations. This will begin a new chapter at Jwaneng Mine and extend the life of the operation by another 10-15 years.

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