Tanzania Mining Location Now Operated by Petra Diamonds

One of the world’s largest diamond mining companies, Petra Diamonds, has taken over the operations of the Tanzania mining location in Shinyanga, thus encouraging the hope that new technology will help to promote and increase the overall rate of diamond production at the mine.

Mwadui’s Williamson Diamond Limited (WDL) mine was originally discovered in 1940 and, in 1958, half of the total shareholding in the WDL was purchased by De Beers

Later, in 1973 the Tanzania government took over the management for the operation of the mine, but once again invited De Beers to share operations in 1994, with recapitalization and shareholding standing at 75 percent for De Beers and 25 percent for the Government of Tanzania.

According to reports, as of last month the mine employed approximately 800 people not including the estimated 400 independent contractors that are working for the mine.

Currently, the Mwadui mine is recognized as the largest kimberlite mine in production in the world, operating within a 146-hectare area.

Petra Diamonds was established in 1888 and, in addition to its recent acquisition in Tanzania, it also has operations in South Africa, Angola, Sierra Leone and Botswana.

The Mwadui’s Williamson Diamond Limited (WDL) was officially taken over by Petra Diamond on February 19, with the company acquiring 75 percent of the interest in the mine, the rest of which will remain in the control of the Tanzanian government.

According to a report in the East African Business Week (EABW), Petra Diamonds has indicated that it has plans for the possible expansion of the mine in order to capitalize on the economies of scale that is currently offered by the Mwadui deposits.

In the report by the EABW, the Corporate Communications Manager for Petra Diamonds, Cathy Malins said that the initial strategy for the company was to continue mining at the current volume for the first year of operations while, at the same time, focusing on establishing the new economies of the mine.

“This will include grade, value per carat, cost per ton and overall production capacity of the infrastructure, but this will be assessed in light of the current adverse economic conditions,” said Ms. Malins.

Following this initial assessment, Ms. Malins said that her company will announce its plans for the operation and expansion of the mine.

“Indications are that the introduction of new technology could increase output to around, or even above 7.5 million tons per annum, reducing unit operating costs and resulting in an estimated annual production of some 500,000 carats and a mine life of around 20 years,” said Ms. Malins.