‘Million carats’ could be retrieved from diamond dump in Botswana

About 18 million carats over 20 years are expected to be recovered from a modular tailings treatment project currently under construction at Debswana’s Jwaneng diamond mine in Botswana, world's richest diamond mine by value.

Since operations began in 1983, MiningWeekly reports, Jwaneng’s tailings have accumulated a significant amount of precious stones particles to the point the company predicts it will treat 2.4 million tons of old tailings a year.

The country’s diamond industry, which account for nearly half of government revenue and 70% to 80% of its export earnings, faces an uncertain future.  This, as experts believe the country’s diamond resources will run out in about 16 years.

According to official figures, the country exported almost $5 billion in diamonds in 2012, representing a 19.5% increase over the previous year.

Botswana’s diamond riches were discovered soon after it became an independent country in 1966. At that time, Seretse Khama, father of the current leader Ian, struck a key deal with the South African diamond giant De Beers to exploit the newfound resources.

The 50/50 joint venture partnership, Debswana, is today the world’s leading producer of diamonds in terms of value.

The Southern Africa nation is now responsible for over a fifth of global diamond production and is the world’s leading producer of gem-quality diamonds.

Image courtesy De Beers