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OPERATIONS: BOTSWANA

'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.

The development of the Ghaghoo mine is progressing well and on schedule with 2 400 carats having been recovered up to 30 June 2014 during the commissioning of the plant. These carats included a 20 carat and two 10 carat diamonds (during the exploration phase, the largest diamond recovered was 7 carats). Optimisation of the treatment plant processes is ongoing during the commissioning phase. The production build-up to 60 000 tonnes per month is still anticipated to be reached by December 2014. 

To date, three production tunnels are progressing within kimberlite on the first production level, Level 1 at 154 metres below surface, whilst an exploratory tunnel and training stope have been developed in the kimberlite on Level Zero at 130 metres below surface. High volumes of water from basalt fissures have recently been encountered in one area and besides contributing to difficult mining conditions have necessitated the procurement of additional pumping capacity and the drilling of additional dewatering bore holes. 

Drilling of the second ventilation hole is complete and holing in is imminent. The third and final hole has been drilled to a depth of 121 metres and should be completed in July, well ahead of the actual requirement to have this ventilation capacity available. 

The first tender for Ghaghoo’s production is scheduled to take place before the end of 2014. 

As at 30 June 2014, US$ 82.0 million of the total capital budget of US$ 96.0 million had been spent.