Tag Archives: Stephen Corry

Botswana: the Central Kalahari Game Reserve and the eviction of Bushmen

• Thousands of Gana and Gwi ‘Bushmen’, and Bakgalagadi, have been forcibly evicted from their ancestral lands in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve(CKGR) in Botswana. This is a gross violation of their human rights and is against international law. Unless they get their lands back, these Bushman tribesare unlikely to survive as peoples.• The government wrongly claims that these relocations are voluntary and gives several quite different reasons for them: these can be shown to be false
• Diamonds have been found at a Bushman community called Gope(pronounced hop-ey), where test drilling has taken place and a rig and basic installation have been mounted. Diamonds have been found in test drilling nearother Bushman communities. There is, however, no mining at present in the CKGR.• The number of diamond exploration licences given out by the government inthe CKGR has increased dramatically since the Bushmen were evicted.
De Beers and Debswana
• Diamond mining in Botswana is controlled by a company called Debswana(ie. De Beers Botswana), which is owned on a 50/50 basis by the government and by De Beers.• Many of the directors of Debswana are senior political figures in Botswana.For instance, the deputy chairman of Debswana, Dr. A.R. Tombale, is the permanent secretary in the Botswana Ministry of Minerals, Energy & Water.Another director, Eric Molale, is permanent secretary to the president of Botswana. Another director, Serwalo Tumelo, is permanent secretary at the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning.• Diamond industry sources call this ‘interdependence’ and a ‘mutual beneficially [sic] relationship model’.

1 Civilisation in reverse, Stephen Corry, Mmegi, Botswana, 8-14 March 2002, reproduced inhttp://www.survival-international.org/bushman_press_mmegi3.htm2 Tacy Diamond Intelligence Briefs, Chaim Even-Zohar, May 2001.

• More simply, the president of Botswana has said, ‘The partnership betweenDe Beers and Botswana has been likened to a marriage. I sometimes wonderwhether a better analogy might not be that of Siamese twins.’
• De Beers is no longer a public company and operates with great secrecy: it is likely that only a handful of senior people know what the diamond (and precious metal) mining potential of the CKGR really is. Accurate information about this is not likely to be given to anyone else, either inside or outside Botswana. As the Financial Times says, ‘Anonymity is paramount in the diamond trade. The industry is secretive to the point of paranoia … Contract sand written codes are virtually unheard of.’
Discussing its plans to explore for diamonds near Debswana’s Orapa mine, the mining company African Diamonds stated, ‘Ground geophysical surveys suggest that some of the kimberlites [diamond-bearing rock] may be bigger than reported by De Beers.’
• De Beers keeps the price of gem diamonds high by severely restricting supply.As The Times has reported, ‘The company has vast diamond stockpiles, but keeps prices high with a tight control on the supply line.’
De Beers’s intention,therefore, might be not to mine in the CKGR for years, even decades, until other mines are exhausted: keeping the find in the ground, out of reach of other companies, might be eventually just as profitable for both the company and the government as actually extracting the diamonds would be. Indeed, at times, as much as 20% of Botswana’s diamonds have been stockpiled to restrict supply,so it makes economic sense not to mine the CKGR diamonds yet. Keeping them in the ground is cheaper, and safer, than stockpiling in vaults.• Botswana’s three main diamond mines, Orapa, Jwaneng and Letlhakane have turned the country into the world’s foremost producer of the gems; all will inevitably become exhausted in the future.
Sequence of events
• A diamond deposit was discovered at Gope in the early 1980s, and in 1982 DeBeers entered into a joint venture with another company (Falconbridge) to evaluate the find.• The Minister of Commerce & Industry announced the decision to relocate the Bushmen on 12 October 1986, but no action was taken.• A formal evaluation of the mine was completed in 1996.• Apparently coincidentally, the first enforced evictions started in May the following year. One Bushman community, Xade, inside the CKGR, which wasalready equipped with a school, clinic, airstrip, and borehole for water, was completely removed.
3 The disposable, Adam Welz, Noseweek, South Africa, May-June 2002.4 Hard edge to glittering rocks, Francesco Guerrera, Financial Times, 8 November 2002.5 Mmegi, 19 September 2003.6 ‘Clone stones – the flawless diamonds made to order’, The Times, p.5 T2, 27 October 2003.

• Also apparently coincidentally, in 1997 less than two months after the eviction of Xade, the mining company Anglo American (which owns part of De Beers)sub-contracted the company, Nepcal, ‘to ferry mining and drilling equipment toXade and other destinations’ in the CKGR. When asked about this, AngloAmerican, ‘denied any knowledge of its activities within the reserve.’
In 2002,the company said it had indeed ‘drilled two exploratory holes in the CKGR in1997’ – one near Xade – but said it had had no contact with Bushmen (who had,of course, already been moved away). Concerning its contract with Nepcal, thecompany said, rather oddly, ‘We have not been able to verify beyond doubt the existence of such a contract.’
In June 2003 the Ghanzi District Commissioner said that ‘some prospecting companies had discovered diamonds in the area [of Xade]’.
This appears to be the same deposit referred to by the Danish organization IWGIA (International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs):‘Anglo-American has been granted a concession for exploration in 1997 near Xade, in the west of the reserve, where a promising deposit has been discovered at Xaxa.’
• In 1999, mineral exploration camps were set up within a few miles of Molapo,a major Bushman community within the CKGR.
• In 2002, further enforced evictions occurred, with more Bushman communities, including Molapo, removed in their entirety. Government officials destroyed another water borehole in a Bushman community, forbade all hunting and gathering, and emptied all the Bushmen’s stocks of water.• Almost the entire CKGR is now being explored for both diamonds andprecious metals, with the prospect ‘of further encroachment’ into the CKGR by mining activities said to be ‘highly likely’.

Description of the finds
• The CKGR lies in the middle of the world’s richest gem diamond fields.• The Gope find was originally described by industry sources as being very significant. For example, Barry Bailey, in charge of prospecting for De Beers,called it ‘moderately large’ in 1997,
and Matthew Hart, editor of a diamond trade journal, described it as ‘the best new target in the Kalahari’.

• Falconbridge, part-owner of the Gope deposit, estimates it would produce 1million carats per year.
This is the same as Letlhakane, the third-largest diamond mine in Botswana, and one of the most productive in the world.

7 Sunday Independent, South Africa, 31 August 1997.8 Letter from Edward Bickham, Anglo American, to Survival, 11 December 2002.9 “Animals, not diamonds, caused Basarwa to be moved”, Botswana Gazette, 18 June 2003.10 Christian Erni, ‘Resettlement of Khwe communities continues’, IWGIA Indigenous Affairs, July-Dec 1997.11 Seeking sustainable strategies: the politics of resource rights among the central Kalahari San, Robert Hitchcock.12 Gope Environmental Impact Assessment, May 1999, section 4.9.13 Forced march into oblivion, Fred Bridgland, Sunday Telegraph, November 1997.14 ‘Diamond’, Matthew Hart, Fourth Estate, 2002, p.71.15 Falconbridge Ltd 1999
Annual Report.
Toronto: Falconbridge Ltd. p. 30.

• Falconbridge estimates that the Gope deposit would produce 20 carats of diamonds per 100 tonnes of ore, and contains 77.3 million tonnes of ore.
Thiscompares with the Ellendale mine in Australia, which produces 6.2 carats per100 tonnes and contains 90 million tonnes of ore
;the Kelsey Lake Mine in theUS, which produces 3.4 to 4.6 carats per 100 tons of ore and contains 18.7million tons of ore
; and De Beers’s three Kimberly (S. Africa) mines, whichtogether produce 18 carats per 100 tons.
It also compares favourably with DeBeers’s planned new mine in Ontario, Canada, which it estimates will produce22 carats per 100 tonnes of ore from a total of 28.7 million tonnes, at a planned rate of 600,000 carats per year.
• The Bushmen’s ancestral land lies at the heart of the richest diamond-producing area in the world. Kalahari Diamonds, currently surveying theCKGR, says ‘the prospect of a major new diamond discovery is extremely likely’.
• As well as Gope, there are other known finds on Bushman lands. For example,there are ‘substantial’ deposits in the Kukama (also spelt Gugama) area where test drilling has been carried out.
• De Beers has already spent a large amount of money studying the Gope site(including contracting an anthropologist, James Suzman, to study Bushman land rights in the CKGR).
• In June 2001 De Beers’s company secretary Sheila Khama said, ‘The company reserved the right to review the economic viability of the project from time to time so as to decide whether or not to proceed with full scale mining.’
• Early in 2002 De Beers said it had no plans to mine ‘for the foreseeable future’
; later that year it described the find as ‘sub-economic’ (sic).
However, at the end of 2002, a De Beers spokesperson stated, ‘We can’t say we will never mine it.’

In 2005 De Beers’s head of public affairs, Andrew Bone,said, ‘We do hope to return and have a mine there one day, that would begreat.’
• In November 2000, De Beers took out a retention licence on Gope. These licences, valid for three years but renewable, had been created by a new mining law in that year: their purpose is to ‘allow a company that has completed an
16http://www.mining-technology.com/projects/debswana/accessed 18 Mar 2005.17 Falconbridge Ltd 2000
Annual Report
. Toronto: Falconbridge Ltd. p. 28.18http://www.kimberleydiamondco.com.au/printable/printable.cfmaccessed 10 Mar 2005.19http://www.coloradomining.org/cattany121202.htmlaccessed 10 Mar 2005.20http://www.maykuth.com/Africa/diam1008.htmaccessed 10 Mar 2005.21 The North Bay Nugget, Canada, 16 Nov 2004, p.A4.22http://www.kalaharidiamonds.com/kalahari_strategy.phpaccessed 21 Mar 2005.23

2nd draft management plan for CKGR & Khutse Game Reserves, Dept of Wildlife & National Parks, 1998,p.29.24 Desktop investigation into the status of Bushmen in Botswana, Suzman & Pedder, Windhoek, 1998.25 Botswana Gazette, 14 June 2001.26 Letter from the Chairman of De Beers, N. Oppenheimer, to Survival, 15 March 2002.27 Letter from De Beers’s public affairs consultant, F. de Villiers, to Survival, 1 July 2002.28 De Beers spokesperson Tracey Peterson, quoted on http://www.busrep.co.za, posted 20 November 2002.29 Andrew Bone speaking during debate at Bedales school, UK, 21 January 2005.

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