Debswana Diamond Company Ltd, or simply Debswana, is a mining company located in Botswana, and is the world's leading producer of diamonds by value. Debswana is a joint venture between the government of Botswana and the South African diamond company De Beers; each party owns 50% of the company. Debswana operates four diamond mines in central Botswana, as well as a coal mine.
The mines owned and operated by Debswana are:
Debswana was formed as the De Beers Botswana Mining Company on June 23, 1969, after De Beers geologists identified diamond-bearing deposits at Orapa in the 1960s. Over the next five years, the government of Botswana increased its ownership stake from an original 15% to a full 50%. On March 25, 1992, the name of the company was changed to Debswana Diamond Company (Proprietary) Ltd. The company’s primary objective is diamond mining and associated processes. Debswana operates the Orapa, Letlhakane, Jwaneng and Damtshaa Mines. The four mines have contributed significantly to Botswana’s socio-economic growth through diamond revenue, transforming the country from an agriculturally based economy in the 1960s to a country that has consistently displayed one of the highest economic growth rates in the world.
All diamond mining in Botswana is controlled by Debswana; there are no private diamond mining operations in the country. Combined production of the company's four mines totaled 30 million carats (6,000 kg), nearly a quarter of the world's annual production of around 130 million carats (26,000 kg). The high value per weight of diamonds mined by Debswana has made the company the leading producer of diamonds by value in the world. Debswana is also the second largest producer by volume.
|Year||Income (Billions US$)||Carats produced||Income chg/yr.|
Diamond mining activities have fuelled much of the growth in Botswana's economy, allowing it to grow from one of the poorest countries in the world when it became independent in 1966 to a "middle income" nation, with $9,200 per capita income in 2004. Largely because of this, Botswana is considered by two major investment services to be the safest credit risk in Africa. Diamonds account for fully one third of the nation's GDP, over 90% of earnings from exports, and 50% of government revenues. Debswana is the largest non-government employer in the country, employing approximately 6,300 people, of whom over 93% are Batswana. Debswana is also the largest earner of foreign currency.
Debswana has been criticised by the international indigenous rights organisation, Survival International, for not respecting the human rights of the Bushmen living in Botswana. Since the mid-eighties, Survival International has published reports that the Botswana government has conducted a campaign of harassment to drive them out and give way to mining exploration. Louis Nchindo, Former Managing Director of Debswana, has said: "The Government was justified in removing the Basarwa from the Reserve… It is sensible of Government to take such action. Otherwise who would always want to remain in the Dark Ages while others move forward?". According to Stephen Corry, Director of Survival International, the Bushmen are not backward or primitive, and their human and cultural rights must be respected. The Botswana government has consistently refuted Survival's claims as exaggerated and there is still no evidence of Debswana mining in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve as the company operates mines elsewhere, at Jwaneng, Orapa, Letlhakane and Damtshaa.