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De Beers finds initial diamond ore in Botswana mine expansion project

De Beers SAhas uncovered the first diamond-bearing ore as part of its US$2.2 billion expansionplan for the Jwanengdiamond project in Botswana, Bloomberg News reported April 1, citing an interviewwith the operation's General Manager Albert Milton.

The Anglo AmericanPlc unit plans to access the kimberlite through an area called Cut 8,which is expected to become the mine's main output source by 2018. It took the companyseven years to reach gem-bearing ore at the body, which is estimated to host 110million carats.

The company has already recovered some kimberlite as it has movedabout 344 million tonnes of the 500 million tonnes of rock and soil needed to accessthe ore body.

The company will continue uncovering limited amounts of diamondsthroughout 2016 and 2017, with Milton saying "by 2018 we will be fully in theore."

The company is to spend US$3billion over 15 years at the project, which is operated by ,a 50/50 joint venture between De Beers and the government of Botswana.

In addition, Debswana plans to reduce its operating costs by3% this year after the company managed "to stay afloat through cost management,with efficiencies in big machines, tires and blasting," Milton added.

In December 2015, the company cut down its production forecast for 2016 to 20 million caratsdue to high pipeline inventories of polished diamonds and lower demand for roughdiamonds.