Williamson mine in Tanzania to resume in mid -2023

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Williamson mine in Tanzania to resume in mid -2023

The Williamson mine in Tanzania is set to resume operations in mid- 2023. The mine was suspended following a dam breach earlier this month which released a total of 12.8 million cubic metres of water and tailings material that flooded nearby areas.

Petra Diamonds who made the halt of operations announcement, confirmed no injuries or fatalities have been reported. However, neighbouring residential buildings being affected by flow of muddy waters. The government has also mobilized mine emergency response teams to the site.

Williamson mine

The decision to resume comes after an assessment by a team of experts that concluded there is a low risk of further failures of the mine’s TFS. They also warned of a possible breach of the New Alamasi water dam. The water and tailings material samples taken by the Tanzanian Government Chemist Laboratory Authority did not find dangerous chemicals and the ones detected were within normal parameters.

A 6-metre-high wall has since been built to close the breached wall area. Additionally as a precautionary measure, Petra’s Tanzanian subsidiary, Williamson Diamonds (WDL), has put up containment walls upstream and downstream of the New Alamasi water dam, while support for facility’s new wall is under way.

The mine was established in 1940 by Dr. John Williamson, a Canadian geologist, and has been continuous operation since then, making it one of the oldest continuously operating diamond mines in the world. Over its lifetime it has produced over 19 million carats (3,800 kg) of diamonds. A 2020 report by The Guardian said that high-quality pink diamonds from the mine could value up to $700,000 a carat.

Diamond mining operations at the Williamson diamond mine are composed of four distinct activities: mining of the pit, re-treatment of tailings to recover missed diamonds, and gravel mining both on the property and adjacent to the property where gravel has been alluvially deposited. The open pit mining and tailings re-treatment are the largest of the four operations. The mine employs about 1,100 staff, mostly Tanzanians.

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