I had the rare opportunity to tour the Jwaneng diamond mine, the richest diamond mine in the world located in south-central Botswana about 120 kilometers west of the city of Gaborone, in the Naledi river valley of the Kalahari. Jwaneng, meaning “a place of small stones”, is owned by Debswana, a partnership between the De Beers company and the government of Botswana.
Diamond accounts for over 80% of Botswana exports. Debswana operates 4 mines across Botswana and employs over 12,000 people.
Their human and social development programs struck me the most during the tour. For instance, to improve the human and social capacity of their ground keepers (cleaners who are largely women), a group of them are selected periodically and trained to operate the Komatsu 930E one of the world’s largest dump trucks, three stories tall, with an average unit cost of $5 million.
At any given time, there are 57 of them in operation at the Jwaneng mine, hauling almost 300 tons of rock from the depths of the mine pit to the crushing and processing center. Each successful trainee experiences an exponential growth in income, sometimes over 400%.
The mines also employ and empowers persons with disability, whom they amiably refer to as ‘Differently Abled People.’ Some of them have been empowered to become entrepreneurs. It was incredibly humbling for me to witness the mines heart of gold and the impact on people and the community.
Who says Diamonds are forever? Well, at Debswana, they have projections beyond mining, with programs focused on ‘Life Beyond Diamonds’, including renewable energy, and tourism.
The Jwaneng mine owns and operates its own hospital and airport.
Tosan Aduayi visited the mine with members of the Axxess/Cavista Holdings crew. For more info, [email protected]