JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) − London-listed Gem Diamonds on Tuesday announced that it had been awarded a mining licence for its Gope diamond project in Botswana.
CEO Clifford Elphick said that the granting of the mining licence was the first step towards the development of the Gope deposit into a viable producing mine.
The license, issued by the Botswana government, would be valid for 25 years, in which time the company envisaged a phased approach to the construction of a mine.
“Gem Diamonds will shortly be looking to approve construction of the initial phase at Gope which aims to start production in 2013, to take advantage of the rising rough diamond market,” said Elphick.
The company planned to scale up production after an initial period of mining. The Gope project currently boasts with an estimated life of mine in excess of 30 years.
Elphick said that the development of the mine was in line with Gem Diamonds' stated strategy of providing a platform for sustainable growth for the group through the development of its existing assets.
The company noted that further details of the mine plan and the relevant staged capital expenditure would be released on March 15, with its results.
The Gope deposit has a resource of 20,5-milliion carats with an average on site value of $3,3-billion.
“Botswana is a politically stable country with a strong history of diamond mining and is therefore an ideal country for Gem Diamonds to be investing into,” said Elphick.
He added that Gem Diamonds remained committed to working closely with the project's affected communities and other interested parties.
“We intend to implement sustainable solutions to the environmental and community related issues in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve to ensure that the benefits of the Gope asset are realised for the community as a whole."
Gem Diamonds also operate mines in Angola, Central African Republic, Australia, Indonesia, Angola and Lesotho.