Debswana’s bold steps towards carbon neutrality

  • Debswana is committed to carbon neutral operations
  • Energy intensity outlined as key to company sustainability efforts
  • Debswana transitioning to use alternative energy sources to fossil fuels

Debswana, the world’s leading diamond producer by value, has set an ambitious goal of carbon-neutral operations, as part of its environment social governance strategy: Building Forever. The company, which is a joint venture between the Government of Botswana and De Beers Group, has outlined a decarbonisation strategy that aligns with the national and global climate commitments.

The strategy entails four main pillars: improving energy efficiency at its operations, exploring alternative green fuels to replace diesel, exploiting renewable sources of electricity to power its sites, and investigating technological and nature-based methodologies of carbon recovery.


According to the Debswana, reducing energy intensity is key to its  decarbonisation efforts, and it has implemented several measures to enhance energy efficiency within its processes and business design. These include replacing rotary scrubbers with pulping chutes, standardizing on premium efficiency motors, and optimizing fuel efficiency for hauling trucks. In 2023, Debswana achieved an 8.3% improvement in energy efficiency against a target of 7%.

“Debswana Ore Processing Plants utilise rotary scrubbers driven by electric motors to achieve full de-agglomeration of crushed material to prepare it for liberation and final recovery of the product. There is an ongoing project to replace the scrubbers with pulping chutes, stationary units that do not use electricity,” said Debswana Senior Carbon and Energy Manager, Mr. Ishmael Motlhale in an exclusive interview with The Projects Magazine

“Majority of processing plant equipment are driven by electric motors. Debswana has since standardized on premium efficiency motors to optimize on electricity consumed.”

Meanwhile fuel efficiency initiatives include pay load management for hauling trucks, installation of energy efficient engines and establishment of on-route fueling systems to minimize empty hauls to the fuel station


Debswana is also transitioning to alternative fuels, with a focus on finding alternatives to diesel, which accounts for about 70% of its energy consumption. Debswana has recently acquired two electric vehicles, currently deployed at Jwaneng Mine and Orapa, Letlhakane and Damtshaa Mines (OLDM), marking a pivotal moment in its journey towards exploring alternatives to diesel. The vehicles are a pilot exercise aimed at testing their capability in a rough mining terrain.

On 23rd February 2024 Debswana Executive Head of Safety and Sustainability, Ms. Mpho Rebecca Mosate launched Debswana’s first 100% electric vehicle at Jwaneng Mine as a pilot project that will go a long way towards the company’s carbon neutrality ambitions.

In her address, Mosate emphasized the fact that Botswana is already experiencing the impacts of climate change such as increase in temperature, irregular rainfall, and extended drought of which the impacts can lead to increase in mortality, disruption of sectors that rely on rainfall – such as agriculture and tourism, leading to increased poverty in the country. In addition, she said that it is important for Debswana to advance climate change action solutions such as reducing energy intensity, replacing fossil fuel through technology, and replacing fossil electricity just to mention a few.

Another significant aspect of Debswana’s sustainability efforts is decarbonizing electricity, which is currently sourced from coal-powered plants. The company has commissioned a number of rooftop solar installations across its sites, in excess of 1MW, and plans to increase the installed capacity to 1,5MW by the end of the year. Debswana’s strategy for large-scale renewables is to procure renewable energy from the utility or other sources.


Debswana works through partnerships to realise its ambition. The company is collaborating with government institutions, Botswana Power Corporation (BPC), and the University of Botswana to achieve its sustainability goals, and to contribute to the socio-economic development of the country. Some of the outcomes of these partnerships include supporting research and innovation in renewable energy, and capacity development.

Debswana Senior Carbon and Energy Manager, Mr. Ishmael Motlhale has underscored Debswana’s commitment to building a sustainable future for its stakeholders, and to playing a leading role in the global fight against climate change. The University of Botswana has been involved in the testing of biofuels at Jwaneng Mine.

The successful trial, which used locally produced biodiesel from waste cooking oil, is to be followed by a feasibility study to investigate the practicability of upscaling the initiative. The project aims to reduce the reliance on imported diesel and to create a circular economy for waste management.

Debswana is also considering green financing as a critical enabler for capital-intensive sustainability projects, such as large-scale renewable energy installations and carbon capture and storage technologies.

The company is yet to explore the green financing opportunities, but it is aware of the potential benefits of accessing low-cost and long-term funding from financial institutions or mechanisms that support environmental and social goals.

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