De Beers begins construction of new underground mine in Limpopo

De Beers has begun construction on a new R20 billion underground mine to extend the life of its open-pit Venetia diamond mine in Limpopo to beyond 2040.

"The investment will extend the life of Venetia beyond 2040 and replace the open pit as South Africa's largest diamond mine," the De Beers Group said on Tuesday.

"With underground production expected to commence in 2021, over its life, the mine will treat approximately 130 million tonnes of ore, containing an estimated 96 million carats. The Mine will also support over 8,000 jobs directly, and a further 5,000 through the supply chain – benefiting the South African economy."

South African President Jacob Zuma praised the company's investment decision, explaining, "This R20 billion investment in the diamond industry, the biggest single investment in the diamond industry in decades, signals that indeed our mining sector is poised for growth, and that it has a bright future."

Minister of Mineral Resources, Susan Shabangu, said it boded well for the economy of the province.

"The launch of this underground mine shows that South Africa remains an investment destination of choice and, through our mining laws, we will continue to ensure that this investment sustainably benefits mining communities and labour-sending areas."

Mark Cutifani, chief executive of Anglo American and chairperson of the De Beers Group, said Anglo had invested nearly R200 billion in South Africa, emphasising its "commitment and making a real difference for South Africa and all South Africans".

"The positive social impact of skills development, the acquisition of economically valuable experience and the potential to uplift rural and sometimes poorer communities is what exists here at the heart of Venetia," he said.

Philippe Mellier, chief executive of the De Beers group, said the decision to build an underground mine at Venetia was a vote of confidence by shareholders.

"Venetia will support South Africa's mining economy for generations to come, and make diamond moments possible for millions of people around the world."

Image: © De Beers

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