Earlier this month, news broke about a huge diamond was found in a Southern African country. The 1,098.30 carats Botswana diamond is 73mm long, 52mm wide, and 27mm thick. It is estimated to be the third-largest diamond ever mined. The yet-unnamed diamond is a product of the Jwaneng mine, owned by the Debswana mining company.
This gem is by no means the first record-breaking diamond unearthed here. In 2015, a 1,109-carat diamond, the world’s second-largest was also uncovered in Botswana. It was named ‘Lesedi La Rona’ which means ‘Our Light’ in the Tswana language. Undoubtedly, Botswana is one of the wealthiest countries in Sub-Saharan Africa because of its large deposit of precious minerals.
The Land-locked Nation of Botswana
Botswana is one of Africa’s most popular safari destinations. The landlocked country that lies at the center of Southern Africa shares borders with four nations; Namibia, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and South Africa. Botswana covers an area that is slightly smaller than that of the state of Texas in the USA. However, the country boasts famous landmarks. For instance, it is home to the Okavango Delta, the Kalahari Desert, and Chobe National Park. The National Park is known for its large elephant population.
Diamond Mining in Africa
Africa has been the center of diamond mining since the 1870s. Further, the continent hosts some of the top producing countries in the world. According to a report released by Grand View Research, the global diamond market was worth $87.31 billion in 2018. At present, Africa produces about half of the world’s diamonds.
The world’s largest diamond, the Cullinan stone was discovered in South Africa in 1905. Interestingly, pieces from that 3,016.75 carat diamond adorn the British Crown Jewels. Apart from Botswana and South Africa, the other top producers of diamonds are Angola, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Namibia.
The Botswana Diamond Mining Industry
When Prince Harry of the United Kingdom proposed to Meghan Markle in November 2017, he presented her with a very special engagement ring. At the center of the ring was a Botswana diamond estimated to be worth between $95,000 and $155,000.
Botswana is the leading diamond mining country in Africa. In addition, its Jwaneng and Orapa mines are the largest diamond mines in the world. Diamonds were first found in Botswana in 1967 and they account for two-thirds of its export earnings. The diamond production comes from 4 mines operated by the Debswana mining company. This is the company that is part of a 50/50 venture between the world’s largest mining company De Beers and the government of Botswana.
How the Botswana Diamond Mining Industry has boosted the Economy
When Botswana gained independence in 1966, it was one of the poorest countries in the world. With a per capita income of $80 per year, the country appeared to have no natural resources. However, that changed upon the discovery of diamond deposits. Consequently, the government of Botswana prudently entered into a partnership with De Beers which guaranteed it a good share of the profits.
Subsequently, it invested in the infrastructure by building roads, schools, hospitals and getting water to the population. In other words, the government’s goal was to reinvest in new assets for a sustainable future. Botswana is unique, as it is one of the few countries in Africa where benefits from its mineral wealth can be clearly observed. For instance, a good percentage of the population enjoys a high standard of living and the nation is projected to become a high-income country by 2036.
The Value of the Discovered Diamond
It is rare to find a gem-quality specimen such as the one discovered at the Jwaneng mine. Moreover, diamond pricing is complex. The value of a carat can range from $1,900 to $16,000. The largest piece of the Cullinan diamond that makes up part of the crown jewels of the UK is worth about $400,000,000.
The ‘Lesedi La Rona’ diamond, the world’s second-largest gem-quality diamond sold for $53 million. The government of Botswana receives up to 80% of its income from Debswana’s sales. This is derived from taxes and dividends. Consequently, whatever the price of the discovered diamond, there’s no doubt that the value will ultimately benefit the people of Botswana.
What lies ahead
Like many other countries, Botswana’s economy took a hit as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Hence the discovery of this diamond and proceeds from its sale will give the country’s economy a warm boost. Moreover, the Debswana Diamond Company’s acting managing director, Lynette Armstrong foresees a bright future for the mining industry in Botswana. Quoted by AP/Reuters she expressed confidence in the sector’s future.
“With the recent introduction of a modern, state-of-the-art large diamond pilot plant, I have every hope that we will be able to recover more large diamonds.”
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