Diamond boom at Mwadui Williamson mine

Williamson mine at Mwadui in Shinyanga is on diamond production boom following major rehabilitation to its treatment plant.

According to interim management statement issued by Petra Diamonds that owns 75 per cent stake at the mine, diamond production increased by 471 per cent in nine months from July 2012 to March, this year.

The production has gone up from 21,570 carats in nine months that ended in March 2012 to 123,243 recorded in nine months that ended in March this year. The firm statement said the mine’s run-of-time (ROM) production continued as planned, where basing on tonnages treated it has improved significantly to remain in line with projections.

“At Williamson, ROM production continued as planned,” the statement said attributing it to “commissioning of the rebuilt treatment plant, with ROM tonnages (increase) significantly.”

William produces 5.6 carats per hundred tonnes (cpht), which remains in line with guidance of 5.5 cpht backed by commissioning of the rebuilt treatment plant.

The mine that underwent extensive development to increase its capacity last year saw its treated tonnage increased by 436 per cent from 423,131tonnes to 2,266,113 tonnes in the said nine-months.

On quarter-to-quarter, which is the third for Petra, shows that Williamson mine produced 43,335 carats of diamond an increase of 128 per cent compared to 18,983 carats produced in third quarter of 2012.

In general Petra Diamonds third-quarter production was up 4.0 per cent to 647,248 carats, while for the nine months to March 31 it was up 20 per cent to 1.89 million carats. The company said it was on track to meet its full-year production target of 2.65 million carats.

It produces 60 per cent of total diamonds sales in the world by value. However, it said the rough diamond market continued the firmer trend experienced since late last year.

This translated to third-quarter revenue of 105.7 million US dollars, up 8.0 per cent. "As usual, revenue will be weighted towards the full 2013 second half period due to the seasonal timing of Petra's diamond sales," Petra said in a statement.

Petra’s current mine plan at Williamson is to ramp up ROM production from 2.5million tonnes per year in financial year 2013 to 3.6 million tonnes per year by 2016, following the introduction of a re-crush system into the plant circuit.

The mine’s Phase 2 expansion project, which was initially planned to take the mine to 10 million tonnes per annum (mtpa), is currently on hold, though Petra continues to consider approaches to further significantly increase production beyond 3.6mtpa.

“An expansion plan above this level will be dependent upon appropriate electricity and water supply, as well as the results recorded from treatment by the rebuilt plant of main pit material over the medium term,” the firm website shows.

Petra’s current mine plan has a life of 18 years, but given that the Mwadui Kimberlite hosts a major resource of 39.6mcts, there is potential to extend the life of mine considerably.

Petra Diamonds is an independent diamond mining group and an increasingly important supplier of rough diamonds to the international market.

The company has interests in eight producing mines: seven in South Africa (Finsch, Cullinan, Koffiefontein, Kimberley Underground, Helam, Sedibeng and Star) and one in Tanzania (Williamson).
Source: The Daily News, reported by Abduel Elinaza in Dar es Salaam
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