Debswana sees bigger Orapa Mine running by 2022

Debswana directors plan to approach their shareholders for approval of the mammoth Cut 3 project by the end of next year, with mining starting by 2022, BusinessWeek has learnt.

The Cut 3 project involves the expansion of the 48-year-old Orapa Mine pit to access more resources currently unreachable. While little information has been made available on the project thus far, it is known that the project will involve the removal of 96 million tonnes of waste to access the new orebody. By comparison, the Cut 8 project at Jwaneng involved the stripping of more than 700 million tonnes of waste to access 95 million carats.

Debswana group manager for mining, Len Dimbungu said at present, the focus was on progressing studies into Cut 3 from pre-feasibility to feasibility.

“We want to start mining Cut 3 by 2022 and what that means is that we have to go to the board by end of 2020 and ask for permission to invest and move ahead into execution,” he told BusinessWeek on the sidelines of a recent briefing. 

“A lot of work is being done towards that date of us going to the board and asking for permission to invest.  “The project is currently at pre-feasibility, then at the end of this year we move to feasibility and then the next step would be execution.”

According to available information, the current level of mining at Orapa, known as Cut 2, can support production until 2030. At present, Debswana officials are only willing to say Cut 3 will extend Orapa’s lifespan “significantly”.

Cut 3 waste mining operations will run alongside the Cut 2 mining, as it happened with Jwaneng Mine’s Cut 8 project. It is expected that some social facilities and other service provision centres in Orapa will have to relocate in order to pave way for the implementation of the Cut 3 mining project.

It is anticipated that facilities such as the Debswana Training centre and primary crusher will have to relocate. Together with the P15.7 billion Cut 9, recently awarded to Majwe Mining, Cut 3 is a high priority project for Debswana’s shareholders, De Beers and the Government of Botswana.

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