'Ghaghoo' is the name of a locally abundant camel thorn acacia tree, and is the name historically used by locals to refer to the area, before geological exploration teams arrived over thirty years ago, renaming the area 'Gope' - literally translated meaning 'nowhere'.
The Ghaghoo diamond mine, which is currently being developed, is held by Gem Diamonds’ wholly owned subsidiary, Gem Diamonds Botswana, which holds a 25-year mining licence. The Ghaghoo mine is situated in the south-east portion of the Central Kalahari Game Reserve.
The difficult task of mining through approximately 80 vertical metres of sand overburden before reaching the competent country rock, has created unique challenges for the project team. Despite these challenges, good progress has been made on the development of the Ghaghoo diamond mine which is poised to deliver on its Phase 1 objectives, the most important of which, being the commencement of commercial production in the second half of 2014.
A build-up to a steady state production rate of 60 000 tonnes per month is planned by the end of 2014. It is anticipated that approximately 200 000 to 220 000 carats will be extracted from 720 000 tonnes of ore per annum.
Focus for 2014
- Continue to develop Phase 1 of the underground mine for sustainable production output
- Balance of US$25 million to be spent in 2014 – funding raised in January 2014
- Commence production in the second half of 2014 and ramp-up to steady state capacity by the end of 2014 (60 000 tonnes per month)
- Install capacity for sustainable production output
- Review options post Phase 1
Gem Diamonds continues to view the Ghaghoo development as integral to its overall growth strategy.
Work will continue on the development of the access decline and subsequent access to the orebody, followed by the commencement of commercial production in the second half of 2014. Activities related to the sinking of the ventilation and escape holes for the underground mine will be completed in the first quarter of 2014 and the processing plant will be fully commissioned by May 2014. Studies are continuing to assess various long-term mining and processing scenarios which, depending on the outcome of Phase 1 and the expected economic outlook, will determine the next stage of the Ghaghoo Project.
During 2013, US$19.2 million was spent on the project. Due to the delays associated with the development of the sand portion of the access decline, the total Phase 1 capital budget was increased to US$96.0 million. At the end of 2013, a total of US$71.2 million had been spent to date, with a debt facility of US$25.0 million concluded in January 2014 for the remaining capital spend.