The 1,098-carat diamond is the biggest stone of gem quality to be found in the history of the Debswana company.
Botswana diamond firm, Debswana says it has unearthed a 1,098-carat stone that it described as the third-largest of its kind in the world. The stone, found on June 1, was unveiled to President Mokgweetsi Masisi on Wednesday in the capital, Gaborone.
“It is believed to be the third-largest gem-quality find in the world,” said Debswana Managing Director Lynette Armstrong.
The “rare and extraordinary stone … means so much in the context of diamonds and Botswana,” she said.
“It brings hope to the nation that is struggling.”
The yet-to-be-named stone, which measures 73mm long, 52mm wide and 27mm thick, is also the biggest stone of gem quality to be found in the history of Debswana, a joint venture between the Government and global diamond giant, De Beers. The biggest diamond ever discovered in the world was the 3,106-carat Cullinan, found in South Africa in 1905. The second-largest was 1,109-carat Lesedi La Rona – a diamond the size of a tennis ball, discovered at Karowe, northeastern Botswana, in 2015. Botswana is Africa’s leading diamond producer.
Minerals Minister Lefoko Moagi said the discovery of the stone could not have come at a better time after the COVID-19 pandemic hit diamond sales in 2020. The Government receives as much as 80% of the income from Debswana’s sales through dividends, royalties and taxes.
Production at the company fell 29% in 2020 to 16.6m carats while sales fell 30% to $2.1bn as the pandemic impacted both production and demand.
In 2021, Debswana plans to increase output by as much as 38% to pre-pandemic levels of 23m carats as the global diamond market recovers with the easing of travel restrictions and reopening of jewellers.
Historic find symbolic
The discovery of Debswana Mining Company’s largest diamond in history is a symbol of what Botswana is about, President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi has said.
Speaking at State House yesterday during the official presentation of the 1 098-carat diamond found at Jwaneng Mine, President Masisi said the gemstone signified the Botswana story.
“This is a unique Botswana story, the processes that we engage in, the company that enabled this – a collaboration between the Government and private sector; the workforce from the lowest level to the highest in the chain of command, the display of humility, honesty and integrity consistent with the values of Botswana,” Dr Masisi said.
President Masisi said consistent with the ‘diamonds for development’ narrative that had transformed Botswana’s fortunes since independence, the financial benefit Debswana would derive from the discovery would be used to further enhance the country’s progress.
“Our national development needs will in part be met by the proceeds of the diamond; we will tax the company sufficiently, they will pay royalties and remunerate their workers, and we will distribute the resources through the systems we have to develop this country,” Dr Masisi said.
The president further said as the country moved towards pursuing the fourth industrial revolution, the find could serve as a reflection point on the type of technologies best suited for the extraction of more such gemstones.
For his part, the Minister of Mineral Resources, Green Technology and Energy Security, Lefoko Moagi said it was rare for that size gemstone that to be discovered through a conventional ore-processing circuit.
“Normally it would not have come out as it did, it would normally have been broken up. This is indeed a momentous occasion for Debswana, especially since the largest stone it ever discovered was in 1993, also at Jwaneng. It was 446-carats. This is the first they have unearthed a gem of over 1000-carats,” Moagi said.