Several large local and international mining contractors are set to spend an anxious Christmas as the winner of the biggest local mining contract since Cut 8 will only be announced next January, BusinessWeek has learnt.
Cut 8, involving the expansion of Jwaneng Mine pit at a cost of more than US$3 billion, was previously the single largest contract for a mine in Botswana.
Majwe Mining, a joint venture amongst three major contractors, scooped the Cut 8 contract running it from 2011 to 2016, with a further two-year extension to 2018. The latest contract, a further expansion of the Jwaneng Mine known as Cut 9, will involve the deepening of the pit beyond 650-metres to tap into an ore body that will yield approximately 48 million carats and support the mine to its end of life in 2034.
Majwe Mining again has thrown its hat into the race, leading a field of contractors who all hope to clinch the multi-billion pula contract. Majwe completed the mammoth Cut 8, which involved stripping away 713 million tonnes of waste, within time and budget, but highly placed sources said there were no guarantees Debswana would award the joint venture the Cut 9 project.
BusinessWeek has leant that unease has settled over Majwe’s plus-300
Majwe’s Cut 8 contract officially ended last Saturday but the joint venture has not released its workers, holding hopes for a quick positive result on the Cut 9 contract. Jwaneng Mine general manager, Koolatotse Koolatotse said a host of “reputable companies” have tendered for the Cut 9 project and the processes towards an award were ongoing.
“Majwe Mining is one of the many that have expressed interest. The successful bidder will be announced in January 2019,” he said.
Cut 9 is believed to be last open cast layer available at Jwaneng Mine before any further extraction of diamonds has to go underground.
The project will be funded from Debswana’s balance sheet, with government already allocated billions of pula in the current financial year.
Debswana is owned on a 50/50 basis by government and De Beers.