Iconic Botswana mine enlists AI to drive exploration


Diamond mining in Botswana

from THABO LEWANIKA in Gaborone, Botswana
Botswana Bureau
GABORONE, (CAJ News) – THE world’s richest diamond mine by value, Jwaneng, is investing in artificial intelligence (AI) as part of a US$1,6 billion investment to boost operations.

The AI-based equipment is set to help with exploration of diamonds above surface, helping engineers to precisely ascertain the belts to blast and at depths to reach ore deposit speedily and efficiently at the mine located in southern Botswana.

Koolatotse Koolatotse, Jwaneng General Manager, revealed the investment in an interview with CAJ News Africa.

The investment is part of the mine’s expansion project, dubbed as Cut 9.

It involves deepening the iconic mine pit beyond 650 metres to tap into an ore body that will yield approximately 48 million carats and support the mine to its end of life in 2035.

Mining in cut 9 began five years ago and Jwaneng (translates to ‘a place of small stones’ in Setswana) has been clearing waste waiting to reach ore in progressive years.

“We expect to fast track this process with the machines we have introduced to help our engineers with the work they do and guide stone blasting to be precise,” Koolatotse said.

The investment in the exploration machines, according to the manager, will yield precision and enhanced efficiency in the process of mining ore belts with large diamond deposits.

The machines operate independently from a human driver and are controlled by a systems engineer from a control room where the engineer monitors the activities of the machines.

Koolatotse further revealed that the machines will be key as the mine anticipates starting underground mining beyond 2033, when diamond deposits on cut 9 will be depleted.

“The opportunity for more technologies is still ahead as the mine will need more intelligence on refrigeration technologies for underground mining when it kick-starts in 2033 to support operations as they get complex,” Koolatotse said.

Bokang Thitoyamore, a senior manager overseeing Cut 9, said that with the help of AI, they expect the mine to reach ore deposits beyond 2027, when actual diamond extraction in the belt starts.

“Our business case will be accelerated by this technology. We expect to hit ore deposits more quickly by the help of these machines,” Thitoyamore forecast.

– CAJ News



scroll to top