Junior miner CEO is typically ‘chief cook and bottlewasher’, diamond junior confirms

Diamond junior James Campbell’s indaba presentation covered by Mining Weekly’s Martin Creamer. Video: Darlene Creamer.

7th June 2023

By: Martin Creamer

Creamer Media Editor


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JOHANNESBURG ( – Outgoing Minerals Council South Africa’s Roger Baxter told the Junior Indaba's opening day that the CEO of a junior mining company is typically a chief cook and bottlewasher – and Botswana Diamonds MD James Campbell was quick to confirm that.

“I’ve been chief cook and bottlewasher for the past 20 years almost, and I’m now running my fourth junior,” said Campbell. (Also watch attached Creamer Media video.)

“I’m typically the only diamond geezer here and what is quite sad is that according to my records, Botswana Diamonds is the only active listed diamond junior in the sub-continent, in the region, and we hope that, over the passage of time, this will improve,” added Campbell in acknowledging Indaba chairperson Bernard Swanepoel and Indaba organiser Paula Munsie, the CEO of Resources4Africa, for continuing to spotlight junior mining in South Africa.

On juniors typically wanting to discover something and then be bought out by a mining major, Campbell gave the discover-and-sell strategy the thumbs down: “I think that’s the wrong mindset," said Campbell during his presentation covered by Mining Weekly.

“You’ve got to discover something with the mindset of mining it and delivering capital gains by being a diamond producer. We focus on geology and without good geology, you can’t do anything,” he added.

In South Africa, Botswana Diamonds is focused on production at Marsfontein and Thorny River, in Limpopo province, and in Botswana, it is dual listed with the London Stock Exchange.

In Zimbabwe, it has three joint ventures, but sadly diamond companies cannot operate there unless linked with one of four companies there and joint ventures are not encouraged.

“But it’s highly prospective from a geological perspective, so we’d like to be there one day, and I’d certainly like to build a diamond mine in Zimbabwe before I hang up my geological boots,” Campbell commented.

Botswana Diamonds plc is funded by investors out of the UK and Ireland who typically have a high-risk mindset. It has no offices and during Covid, it got by with £384 000 for the year, which included auditing compliance, legal fees and field work.

“We’re very, very miserly with our money, because it is our money,” said Campbell, who reports that very little diamond exploration is taking place.

The older mines are getting deeper and more costly, which means that diamond prices will rise amid demand for diamonds continuing to rise.

“Of course, we have black swan events, like the global financial crisis, Covid and the war in Ukraine, but these tend to be transitory and we carry on with the longer term trend,” he outlined.

Displaying a slide showing pictures of production at Marsfontein and Thorny River, Campbell applauded South Africa’s Department of Mineral Resources and Energy.

“There’s very little comparable legislation for a mining permit in other jurisdictions which allow juniors, such as ourselves and others, to get by with the minimal amount of bureaucracy and into production.

“In fact, we were in production on this property within three months of actually setting up,” he said, showing an image of his hand holding diamonds.


Campbell emphasised that the share price of junior resource companies “is everything”, with market capitalisation meaning very little – “size is nothing”.

The company arranged a deal with a royalty miner where it does the technical and compliance work and the royalty miner provides all the capital and the operating cost.

This has minimal financial impact on shareholders, with the cash being generated for Botswana Diamonds.

“It’s not saying that we’re going to do every project like that, but when you’re mining dumps and alluvial deposits, where the resource risk is high, it makes sense to do it this way,” Campbell explained.

Edited by Creamer Media Reporter




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