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Botswana’s Debswana terminates mining contract with Australia’s Thiess

GABORONE, Jan 12 (Reuters) - Debswana Mining Company, owned by De Beers and the Botswana government, said on Tuesday it has terminated a $1.3 billion contract with a unit of Australia’s Thiess to extend the lifespan of its Jwaneng diamond mine and will carry out the project in-house.

Debswana, among the world’s largest diamond producers, declined to provide a reason for terminating the contract for the extension project, known as Cut 9, which was awarded to Majwe Mining in 2019.

The nine-year project is expected to extend the life of Debswana’s flagship mine to 2035, yielding an estimated 53 million carats of rough diamonds.

“The Cut 9 operation will transition to an owner-mining operation, with some of the key services and resources, such as labour, being provided by contractors/service providers to Jwaneng Mine,” Debswana’s head of corporate affairs, Rachel Mothibatsela, said in a statement.

Debswana originally signed a 1.7 billion Australian dollar ($1.31 billion) contract with Majwe Mining, a joint venture 70% owned by Australian mining services firm Thiess and 30% held by citizen-owned firm Bothakga Burrow.

Debswana has been hit by the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, which has dented demand for diamonds, and the company’s production fell 29% to 12.3 million carats in the first nine months of 2020.

$1 = 1.2940 Australian dollars Reporting by Brian Benza Editing by Tanisha Heiberg and Susan Fenton

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