We're going underground

Buoyed by the successful implementation of the Letlhakane Mine Tailings Resource Treatment Project (LMTRTP), Debswana will consider the possibility of implementing underground mining at Letlhakane Mine.

Speaking at the inaugural TradeUpNorth mining and construction expo held in Francistown late last week, Debswana Projects Portfolio Manager, Eunice Mpoloka revealed LMTRTP had effectively saved Letlhakane Mine from closing.

“The project has extended the lifespan of the mine by 25 years. But after the project, Debswana will look to explore the possibilities of further extending the mine’s economic life by exploring underground mining,” Mpoloka said, explaining Letlhakane reached depths that limit conventional open pit mining in 2016.

It is against this backdrop that the mine is exploring various options such as slope steepening and underwater mining.

Letlhakane, Debswana’s deepest mine, is an open-pit mine located in the Boteti sub-district and has produced more than 31 million carats since it opened in 1976.

The tailings project was initiated in October 2011 to explore the possibility of extending the life of the mine by treating the existing tailings resource.

At least P2.1 billion was injected into the project, which involves the building of a modular plant to recover diamonds from coarse tailings through the use of new and improved recovery technologies. Tailings are leftover materials from diamond mining.

Construction started in 2015 and commissioning began two years later. Around 21 million carats, from the approximated 83 million tonnes of material are expected to be recovered over an estimated 25 years.

More than 800 employees have been employed on the project, most of them Batswana and at least 25 contractor companies have also been engaged, many locally based.

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