De Beers's mine on Bushman land would be a hundred times larger than previously announced

February 23, 2006

This page was created in 2006 and may contain language which is now outdated.

In a surprise revelation, the Botswana government has said that a diamond mine on the land of the Central Kalahari Bushmen would affect 5,027 square kilometres of land – well over a hundred times more than previously announced.

In a leaflet distributed outside a Survival event in London, the Botswana government states, ?a small area immediately around a mineral deposit, i.e. within a 40km radius, is cordoned off.' This means that an area 10% of the total size of the Central Kalahari Game Reserve (CKGR) would be impacted.

Botswana's Minister of Minerals, Energy and Water Affairs said in 2000 that 46 square kilometres or 0.09% of the reserve would be allocated to a mine. De Beers's own Environmental Impact Assessment report published in 1999 states that the area impacted by a mine would be 35 square kilometres or 0.07% of the reserve, while the Botswana Gazette reported in May 1998 that a mine would cover only 20 square kilometres or 0.04% of the reserve.

The government leaflet also says that there is ?no need to relocate people who live 200km away.' In fact, none of the Bushman communities from which people have been evicted since 2002 are more than 115 kilometres from the proposed mine site and several are much nearer. One community, Gope, is exactly on the site.

Survival's director Stephen Corry said today, ?Despite De Beers's assertions to the contrary, we believe mining in the reserve draws ever closer. Prior to the campaign, De Beers and the government made no secret of their wish to mine. Their signals changed in 2002 when we were told the find was 'subeconomic'. But now that is not even mentioned, instead we are told that a massive 10% of the reserve's area would be cordoned off if there were a mine. We believe the issue is now about the destruction of a large part of one of Africa's largest reserves, as well as of the Bushmen.'

Click here to see a map of the area the mine would cover according to the latest announcement.

For more information call Miriam Ross on (+44) (0)20 7687 8734 or email [email protected]