CELEBRATING A RICH HISTORY OF PROGRESS
The Letšeng mine is famous for the production of large, highvalue,
exceptional white diamonds, making it the highest dollar
per carat kimberlite diamond mine in the world. Since Gem
Diamonds’ acquisition of Letšeng in 2006, the mine has produced
four of the 20 largest white gem-quality diamonds ever recovered.
Seeking to showcase the uniqueness of the mine and inspire
interest in the industry, on 6 May 2016, we opened our Letšeng
Diamond Discovery Centre. The opening ceremony was attended
by His Majesty King Letsie III.
Addressing the gathering, Letšeng’s Chief Executive Officer, Mazvi
Maharasoa, said: “The primary objective of the centre is to
promote learning and enhance the public’s understanding of
Lesotho’s diamond resources in a global context. It puts the
diamond mining industry at centre-stage and details the
industry’s contribution to Lesotho’s long-term economic growth.”
The centre illustrates details of the diamond mining industry that
many members of the public may not have previously been privy
to, demystifying the industry for residents of Lesotho. The centre
details the diamond’s journey, from initial diamond discovery to
the sales and marketing of the product and helps enhance
visitors’ understanding of the positive role of the mine in the
economy of Lesotho.
The Lesotho Minister of Mining, Lebohang Thotanyana, was in
attendance at the centre’s opening ceremony and had the
following to say: “As government, we see this facility as one of
the major steps by the diamond mining industry in helping to
achieve the Mining and Minerals Policy objective of transparency
in all aspects of administering and managing the country’s
The Minister also highlighted that the centre would serve as a
source of inspiration for aspiring and future professionals in the
diamond mining industry. “This is very important because the
sector is faced with a great shortage of skills in the industry.”
We are excited about what the centre can bring to the people
of Lesotho as well as the value it adds for tourism in the area.
Anybody travelling through the area is encouraged to visit the
Diamond Discovery Centre, no matter what their interest in
mining, and learn something new about Lesotho’s diamonds.
Replicas of the four biggest diamonds recovered by Letšeng are on display at the Letšeng Diamond Discovery Centre.
Interactive display at the Letšeng Diamond Discovery Centre.
CREATING SUSTAINABLE VALUE FOR OUR COMMUNITIES
One of our most significant infrastructural projects has been the
provision of water to the PACs residing in the Central Kalahari
Game Reserve, which is a major need due to the arid climate.
Ghaghoo provides water to Molapo, Metsiamanong, Mothomelo
and Gope. The Gope community receives treated water directly
from the mining site, and borehole water is used for animal
consumption. While the borehole water for the Metsiamanong
and Mothomelo communities was of high quality, the water in the
borehole at Molapo was too salty for human consumption. The
community has therefore been provided with an on-site water
treatment plant. Ghaghoo has taken responsibility for maintaining
the plant and ensuring that water is in constant supply.
Ghaghoo adopted the Kaudwane Primary School during 2014. As
the sponsoring company, Gem Diamonds has performed ongoing
maintenance and repairs to the school over the past three years,
including repairs and maintenance to the school’s generator,
bathrooms, kitchen and classrooms. Students from the Kaudwane
Primary School also attend a mine tour annually at our Ghaghoo
mine. The initiative aims to educate students in the mining industry,
which is a part of their classroom curriculum, supplying a first-hand
experience of a mining site and the mining process.
In Botswana, Agriculture is an important subject in the school
curriculum. At the Lephephe Primary School, the subject is
brought to life as learners integrate their classroom-based lessons
with hands-on experience, learning how to prepare, plant, care for
and harvest fruit and vegetables in the school’s vegetable garden.
The produce grown is either used in the school’s kitchen,
where students are fed two meals a day, or sold to the local
community. The funds are reinvested into the garden or
spent on the school’s feeding programme. Through the
money raised, the school has been able to expand the
garden and make improvements, such as reinforcing
the bottom of the garden to keep pests out.
“The children love how practical the agriculture classes are. In fact, I think they
prefer it to their classroom work.”
Our Botha-Bothe vegetable production project was initiated in
2015 following a needs analysis and extensive engagement with
the community. The objective was to improve the food security
and nutrition of these vulnerable communities and to provide
families with a sustainable source of income. The project has
assisted smallholder farmers in the Botha-Bothe community by
providing six greenhouses and assisting in the ploughing and
planting of 32 hectares of land in the Botha-Bothe community.
Farmers received comprehensive support, including training and
assistance in identifying markets for their products and linkage
with market requirements. In this way, farmers have been assisted
in moving from subsistence farming to commercial farming.
The produce from the project is sold to the surrounding
communities as well as to the Letšeng mine. The income generated
by the project covers its running costs. In addition, the participating
farmers receive support from the project with regard to the farming
of their land, which they farm for their own income.
During 2016, the greenhouses and fields continued to yield
quality produce. However, severe weather conditions resulted in
significant damage to crops and adversely affected the
profitability of the project. We will continue to support farmers in
the year to come to assist them in recovering from the difficulties
faced during the year.
In the Mokhotlong district, in the highlands of Lesotho, much of
the community is largely dependent on livestock as the major
driving force for community livelihood.
Following an in-depth community needs analysis that was
undertaken in Mokhotlong and Botha-Bothe, a dairy project was
identified as the most sustainable means of contributing
positively to the socio-economic development of these
communities. The Liphamola Dairy Farmers Association (LDFA) in
Mokhotlong was identified as the beneficiary of the project. The
LDFA was established in 2011 and has over 210 members across
Mokhotlong. A management committee has been established to
oversee the project and consists of the representatives of the
farmers, Letšeng Diamonds as the financier, the Ministry of
Agriculture and Food Security and Lesotho National Dairy Board.
Once completed, the project will consist of two components, a
farm where cows will be reared and the milk processing plant,
both of which are currently under construction. Work on the
infrastructure needed to support the project began in 2016.
In total, 30 Brown Swiss cows will be purchased and reared in
Mokhotlong, 15 of which will be purchased in 2017 and the
remaining 15 to be purchased in 2018. Brown Swiss cows were
selected because they are adaptable to any climate conditions.
The processing of milk will include pasteurisation to increase the
shelf life of the milk and thereafter the milk will be packaged.
Individual farmers will also have an opportunity to sell milk to the
farm, which will result in benefit being distributed to the larger
community in Mokhotlong. The farm will also employ eight
full-time staff members from the community.
A biogas system will be installed as the waste management
plan for the farm. All the waste that will include cow
dung, human waste, milking parlour, etc will be
treated to produce methane gas that will be used to heat water
at the farm. The residue will be used as manure in the fields.
The rearing and management of calves will be part of the training
involved in this project. Furthermore, artificial insemination will be
performed as part of the project. In this way, calves, which will be
highly adaptable to the local conditions, will be sold at reasonable
prices to community members, rather than having to import
them from South Africa.
“The contribution from Gem Diamonds has made all
the difference. We could not have come this far, seeing
the project being built from the ground up, without
Ariel Mosaase, a member of the Liphamola Dairy Farmers
Feeding is the highest operational cost of this project. A cropsharing
arrangement has been made with local farmers
whereby their land is utilised to plant crops to be used as feed.
Farmers then receive a percentage of the crops as payment for
the use of their land, supplying further benefit to the community.
We believe that this project will produce viable socio-economic
growth, meeting community needs and uplifting people for
many years to come.
Lephephe Primary School student participating in the school agricultural programme.
Greenhouses at the Botha-Bothe vegetable project.
Tomato plants at the Botha-Bothe vegetable project.
Construction at the dairy farm.
Farmers working the land as part of the crop sharing arrangement at Mokhotlong.
Ariel Mosaase, a member of the Liphamola Dairy Farmers Association.