The government of Botswana and De Beers, equal joint owners of Debswana Diamond Co., announced in late 2009 plans for major investments to extend the life of the Jwaneng open-pit diamond mine in Botswana, the world’s largest diamond mine by production value. The project, also known as Cut-8, will be the largest-ever single capital commitment in the private sector in Botswana and will ensure continuous production at the mine until at least 2025.

Initial capital expenditure for Cut-8 will total about $500 million. Taking into account all project stages, including feasibility, design, implementation and mining operations, and cost of plant and equipment, project investment is expected to total about $3 billion over the next 15 years.

Development of Cut-8 will require the removal of more than 700 million mt of waste between 2010 and 2024, exposing 78 million mt of diamond-bearing ore and deepening the Jwaneng pit to a depth of 650 m. The project is expected to provide access to 95 million carats of diamonds, which have the potential to be worth more than $15 billion over the life of the mine.

Fluor Corp. won the engineering, procurement and construction management (EPCM) contract from Debswana to execute the Jwaneng Cut 8 project. After successfully completing the feasibility study for Debswana earlier in 2009, Fluor was awarded the procurement and construction management phases of the project valued at approximately $450 million in the last quarter of 2009.

Jwaneng Cut 8 is the latest in a number of projects being developed by Fluor as part of a portfolio which includes a new diamond processing plant at the Orapa diamond mine and the expansion of the Morupule coal mine. The Cut-8 expansion includes relocating and rebuilding portions of existing surface infrastructure that are impacted by the pit expansion.