Diamonds from Botswana: A Gem Empire
Diamonds were discovered in Botswana in 1967 and since then, the South African country has been a gem empire. Today, Botswana is second only to Russia in diamond production, accounting for nearly 20% of the world’s diamonds. Botswana is the biggest producer of diamonds in terms of value.
The country’s diamonds are mined by two large mining companies, Debswana (owned in equal partnership by the government and De Beers), and Bamangwato Concessions Ltd. (BCL).
There are six active diamond mines in Botswana, among them Orapa, the first mine to open in the country, which began production in 1972. Jwaneng, which has evolved into the single-richest diamond mine in the world, was opened in 1982.
The central pit at Jwaneng, which yields 80% profits for its owners and accounts from approximately half of Botswana’s income, measures 1.6 kilometers wide, 2.5 kilometers long and 350 meters deep.