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Botswana: diamond mining operation looks to invest in X-ray tech

Botswana: diamond mining operation looks to invest in X-ray tech

Botswana's Debswana Diamond Company has dismissed media reports citing that the Southern African country's Department of Environmental Affairs has approved the company's environmental impact assessment (EIA) authorising the use of full-body X-ray machines at its mines.

"We only have conditional approval but our EIA has not been approved," said Rachel Mothibatsela, Corporate Communication Manager at Debswana.

"We hope the EIA will be approved soon. We are currently going through a public review."

In 2012, Debswana mooted plans to join peers in South Africa and Namibia to introduce the use of Scannex machines to minimise diamond theft in its mines.

Scannex is a low X-ray dose, full body scanner for the purpose of resource protection whose primary application is the detection or deterring of illegal diamond trade by personnel at diamond mining operations.

Mothibatsela is on record reiterating that current physical search methods used by the mine are not efficient to detect and recover all stolen diamonds that could be hidden within the human body.

"X-rays are the only known method capable of consistently detecting diamonds that are hidden within the human body," Mothibatsela said.

Mothibatsela said the new acquirement has been motivated by the growth of Botswana's diamond industry – relocation of the DeBeers Diamond Trading Company International (DTCI) from London to Gaborone and increasing diamond polishing company.

"The growth in the industry will most likely introduce new threats to diamond security, such as syndicates, illegal diamond trafficking and organised criminals; hence the need to beef up security at Debswana mines."

Debswana plans to install ten full-body X-ray machines - four of which will be installed at security checkpoints at Jwaneng Mine, the world's biggest diamond mine, while another four will also be placed at Orapa and one each at the Letlhakane and Damtshaa mines.

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