British-based miner Gem Diamonds on Friday announced the opening the Ghaghoo diamond mine on Botswana, which will be the first underground diamond mine in the country.

The company operates the Letseng mine in Lesotho, with the Ghaghoo set to be Gem’s second major producing mine.

Gem sees the opening the Ghaghoo mine as a significant milestone for the company and marks the event with a ceremony to be attended by The President of Botswana Ian Khama.

First underground mine

The Ghaghoo diamond mine will be the first underground diamond mine in Botswana – home of the world’s leading diamond producer.

Through a phased development plan, Ghaghoo will be among a new generation of diamonds mines in Botswana, stated Gem.

Significant step

Gem Diamonds CEO Clifford Elphick said that bringing the Ghaghoo mine into production is a significant step forward for Gem.

“The potential of this ore body and the economic benefits to shareholders, employees and the Botswana nation will soon become evident,” commented Elphick.

“We believe that our steadfast approach and commitment to being an excellent corporate citizen, and working to ensure we operate in an environmentally and socially responsible manner is key in determining the long-term success of the Ghaghoo mine.”

Social impact study

Gem undertook a series of extensive studies and assessments relating to the environment, local communities and broader social impacts of the Ghaghoo mine.

This is a strategic priority for the company in a rapidly changing environment for the global mining industry, and will contribute to the modernisation of the diamond mining industry to ensure long-term sustainability, said Gem in a statement.

Community consultations

Gem undertook in-depth community consultations as part of a social engagement strategy and to benefit local communities.

“The mine and our investment to date demonstrate our commitment to the country and to the people of Botswana,” said Elphick in a company statement.

Phase one production

The company will employ approximately 250 people in Botswana once full Phase 1 production is achieved in 2015 and will see the development of a skills base in the local area.

The objective of Phase 1 will confirm grade, diamond prices and the recovery processes, including autogenous milling to increase diamond liberation.

The results of Phase 1 will define the further development plans at Ghaghoo, reports Gem.

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