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Ghaghoo mine diamond extraction in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve, Botswana

After years of bushmen's struggle to defend the access to their territory, an open diamond pit opened in 2014, theatening their traditional livelihoods.


The Botswanan Government granted concessions for mineral exploration to diamond companies over an area encompassing the entire ancestral territories of the Gana and Gwi Bushmen, living in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve. The majority of the Bushmen were forced to re-locate, and denounced the threats, persecution and torture they suffered. The bushmens main borehole was cut off so as to forcibly evict them. Despite a ruling by the Botswanan high court in 2006 that the eviction was unlawful, the borehole remained closed and the judge dismissed their case to access water inside the reserve in 2010. Finally in January 2011 Botswanas Court of Appeal overturned the decision and condemned the governments degrading treatment of the Bushmen. The diamond project, valued at 3.3 billion dollars, remained on hold until 2014. In September 2014, opened the Ghaghoo diamond mine.

Basic Data
Name of conflict:Ghaghoo mine diamond extraction in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve, Botswana
State or province:Ghanzi
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Mineral Ores and Building Materials Extraction
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Mineral processing
Mineral ore exploration
Specific commodities:Land
Project Details and Actors
Project details

Diamonds deposits are valued at 3.3 billion USD. Ghaghoo mine is owned by Gem Diamonds. Opened, in 2014, its worth is

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Level of Investment:2000000
Type of populationSemi-urban
Start of the conflict:1986
Company names or state enterprises:BHP Billiton (BHP) from United Kingdom
Debswana from Botswana
De Beers from South Africa - based in Luxembourg
Motapa Diamonds from Canada
Gem Diamonds
Petra Diamonds - based in Jersey
Coal and Gas Corp
Tlou Energy from Australia
Relevant government actors:Government of Botswana.
International and Finance InstitutionsThe World Bank (WB) from United States of America
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:First People of the Kalahari - Botswana, Survival International NGO - Italy
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityHIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
Reaction stageIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups mobilizing:Indigenous groups or traditional communities
Informal workers
International ejos
Local ejos
Social movements
Ethnically/racially discriminated groups
Forms of mobilization:Involvement of national and international NGOs
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Street protest/marches
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover
Potential: Air pollution, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Desertification/Drought, Food insecurity (crop damage), Soil contamination, Soil erosion, Waste overflow, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Mine tailing spills
Health ImpactsVisible: Malnutrition, Violence related health impacts (homicides, rape, etc..)
Potential: Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…), Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide, Infectious diseases, Deaths
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Displacement, Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Militarization and increased police presence, Violations of human rights, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Potential: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Increase in violence and crime, Social problems (alcoholism, prostitution, etc..), Specific impacts on women
Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Court decision (victory for environmental justice)
In spite of favourable court decision for the local inhabitants, a diamond open pit is in activity since 2014 .
Development of alternatives:They wanted access to water and the right to hunt and freely gather fruits in the reserve as they did before the mine activity.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Not Sure
Briefly explain:The High Court of Botswana ruled that the displacement of the Bushmen is unlawful and unconstitutional and accorded them full rights to re-enter and live in their territory. In 2011, they won the right to access the borehole. But in 2014 a diamond mine was inaugurated in the CKG Reserve while in the beginning of 2015 the government grated licenses for gas explorations.
Sources & Materials
References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

Blood Diamonds. Tracing the Deadly Path of the Worlds Most Precious Stone. Campbell, Greg. Ed. Carocci, 2005

L'Africa del tesoro. Masto, Raffaele. Ed. Sperling and Kupfer. 2006
[click to view]

Conflict Diamonds. Global Witness Campaign
[click to view]

Diamonds, Gold and War. Meredith, Martin. Ed. Public Affairs, 2007
[click to view]

Rich Man, Poor Man. Development diamonds and poverty diamonds: the potential for change in the artisanal alluvial diamonds fields of Africa. Autori Vari, 2004
[click to view]

Botswana, Gobal Witness Reports
[click to view]

Timeline leading to the opening of the Ghaghoo mine in 2014, Survival
[click to view]

Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

Botswana: Boscimani vincono la causa, appello a Di Caprio, 13/12/2006
[click to view]

Bushmen aren't forever - Bostwana : diamonds in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve ad the eviction of Bushmen, Survival International, September 2006
[click to view]

Gem Diamonds officla web page: Operations in Botswana
[click to view]

Botswana grants gas exploration rights in Kalahari, 12/02/2015
[click to view]

Botswana government lies exposed as diamond mine opens on Bushman land, Survival, 4/09/2014
[click to view]

Botswana: la lotta dei Boscimani e il muro di ferro, 04/10/2004
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:Lucie Greyl
Last update18/08/2019
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