DRA Global to extend its long-standing partnership with Gem Diamonds Ltd

Gem Diamonds owns 70% of the Letšeng Diamond Mine in Lesotho (together with its partner, the Government of Lesotho which owns the remaining 30%) and 100% of the Ghaghoo mine in Botswana, with head offices in the United Kingdom, Sales, Marketing and Manufacturing capabilities in Belgium and Technical and Support Office in South Africa.

Since Gem Diamonds acquired Letšeng in 2006, it has recovered more than 115 greater than 100 carat, rough diamonds. Letšeng is renowned for its large top colour exceptional white diamonds, making it the highest average dollar per carat kimberlite diamond mine in the world and ranks in the top 10 global diamond producers by revenue.

Following a long-standing partnership with DRA and DRA subsidiary, Minopex, the global engineering and operations management group of DRA has recently been awarded a Desktop Study to explore options to transition from open pit operations to an underground operation.

The mine is considering options to extend mining from the Satellite Pit beyond the open pit operations and has commissioned DRA to conduct a Desktop Study and consider various access and mining methods for potential underground operations. The mining methods proposed are Blast Hole Open Stoping, Sub Level Caving and Block Caving.

The underground desktop study will include various services to the underground operations, an ore handling system to deliver ore to the two processing plants on surface and a capital and operating cost estimate with a financial model to indicate the potential business case for underground mining from the Satellite Pit.

DRA’s global team of mining specialists boast an impressive 600 years of combined experience and it’s this expertise that has helped the mine to recover large high value diamonds, those greater than 100 carats together with those +10 carat rough diamonds which account for 70% to 80% of Letšeng’s annual revenue.

Letšeng has grown to be one of the largest open pit diamond mines in the world, processing ore from two kimberlite pipes, the main pipe 17.0ha and the satellite pipe 5.2ha. In 2017, certain business transformation initiatives were undertaken to unlock additional value at the mine, these included an updated open-pit life of mine plan, large diamond recovery and reduced diamond breakage initiatives and a mining optimisation project.