The race to appoint the substantive Managing Director for blue-chip diamond company, Debswana Mining Company is said to have narrowed to two powerful women within the mining industry.
On Wednesday Debswana board chairperson Emma Peloetletse revealed that the process of appointing substantive MD for Debswana is still ongoing and they are now doing due diligence to ensure that a right person is appointed to the post.
Information gathered by this publication is that the board is still to decide between the acting MD Lynette Armstrong and Lucara Botswana Managing Director Naseem Banu Lahri. Armstrong is said to be continuing to tick the right boxes and some board members are convinced that she should be given chance to lead the world’s leading diamond mining company.
Armstrong who is the first woman to lead Debswana added another badge to her shoulders by leading Debswana to their ever first historic discovering of a high gem-quality” stone at its Jwaneng mine on June 1.
The diamond which is yet to be valued is the largest to have ever been recovered by Debswana in its history of over 50 years in operation and comes at a time when Armstrong is at the helm of the company.
Previously, the largest gem-quality Jwaneng diamond recovered was a 446-carat specimen from 1993.
Though the diamond was discovered at Jwaneng Mine, some of the industry players point to her sterling job as the head of the company.
The Selibe Phikwe born A Chartered Accountant by profession is said to have impressed the board when she took a decisive decision to terminate Majwe Mining Joint venture contract and opted to do in house mining is said to have been a trump card for Armstrong as Botswana which co owns Debswana with De Beers pushes for Citizen Economic Empowerment (CEE).
“She is the right person to help Debswana on their ambitious strategy to transform and transition the company through bold technology-led innovation, inspired collaborative and passionate purpose-driven people,” said a source within the company.
The strategy, dubbed “Debswana 2024, one dream, one team” will see the Jwaneng mine being converted into an underground mine making it the world’s largest underground diamond mine.
In a press briefing on Wednesday, Armstrong confirmed that the Debswana board has approved their proposal to opt for underground operation instead of Cut 10.
Armstrong first joined De Beers Group in 2002 as Business Manager – Exploration and promoted to Chief Financial Officer in 2015. She has more experience in the mining industry as she has worked in the industry for most part of her career.
On the hand she is facing another lady who is a product of Debswana and currently leading Lucara Botswana mine which under her leadership has also made historic discoveries.
It was under Lahri’s leadership that Lucara Botswana at their Karowe Mine recovered the second largest stone in history 1,109-carat Lesedi La Rona.
Lahri is the first Motswana woman to run a mining company in Botswana when Lucara Diamond Corp. promoted her to managing director of its subsidiary in Botswana, then called Boteti Mining, in May 2018.
Karowe Mine is regarded as one of the world’s prolific producers of large, high value type IIA diamonds and the only diamond mine in recorded history to have produced two +1,000 diamonds
The Lobatse born chartered accountant was regarded as one of Debswana’s blue eyed girl as she groomed to become the company’s Chief Financial Officer before she jumped ship in 2008 and joined Lucara Diamond Corporation.
Lahri is also mandated to ensure that the mine move to underground mining to increase its lifespan to 2040 is said to neck to neck with Armstrong and those who favor her argues that she is outside the Debswana internal politics.