'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 mine, with the Gope 25 kimberlite pipe, is located around 45km within the eastern border of the Central Kalahari Game Reserve, and the highest environmental standards will be strictly adhered to, to ensure minimal environmental impact from the mine's development. Independent advisors, Marsh Environmental Services, a division of Marsh (Pty) Ltd, were appointed to undertake an environmental impact assessment which included a stakeholder engagement process. For more information on Marsh Environmental Services' independent assessment process, please visit their website, www.marsh-africa.com. Ghaghoo's environmental impact assessment report received final approval in October 2008.
In early 2010, an updated resource statement for Ghaghoo was undertaken by three independent experts. An increase in grade from new statistical modelling, and volume through the re-interpretation of drilling results, led to an upgrading in Ghaghoo's total carat resource to 20.5 million carats, at an increased average US$162 per carat, with a total in situ value of US$3.3 billion. Two blue diamonds were also recovered from samples during the valuation work: a find of some significance in such a small parcel, given such diamonds' extreme rarity.
In August 2010 Gem Diamonds presented the Botswana Government with an updated study on Ghaghoo, including the option of an underground mine, which would require significantly less capital to develop. A decline was settled on as the most cost effective access method, and construction of the first phase began in 2011.
FOCUS FOR 2013:
- Continue to develop the underground mine
- Refine options for post Phase 1
Gem Diamonds' Board approved a capital budget of US $85 million in March 2011, for the construction of Phase 1 of the Ghaghoo underground mine, with a production capacity of 720 000 tonnes per annum. The objective of Phase 1 is to confirm the grade, diamond prices and the recovery processes, including the use of autogenous milling, which is expected to increase diamond liberation. Results from Phase 1 will underpin a study aimed at defining the way forward for mining at Ghaghoo.
A decline was settled on as the most cost effective access method for the underground mine and construction of Phase 1 began mid-2011.
Phase 1 of the Ghaghoo underground mine in Botswana progressed with the construction of the decline tunnel using an open face tunnel shield through the sand overburden. Progress for the decline tunnel was slower than planned through an area of unconsolidated sand, interspersed with unanticipated harder material. However, the sand portion of the decline was completed during the third quarter of 2013 after going through the transition zone then reaching competent basalt at a length of 456 meters. The basalt tunnel advance was 306 meters at the end of October 2013, making the tunnel length a total of 762 meters. The first level breakoff at 130 meters depth occurred at the end of October. This level will be used to access the De Beers old workings as well as establishing a training stope. There are some 150 meters left to reach the production level breakoff, at 154 meters depth. Ore production will start in early H2 2014.
Construction of the processing plant, which was put on care and maintenance in April 2013, will be commissioned early in 2014 and will be ready for the H2 2014 ore delivery date.