23 October 2013
De Beers, the world’s second-biggest diamond producer, began construction of a new underground mine beneath its open pit Venetia Mine in Limpopo province, South Africa on Tuesday.
The Anglo-American owned miner said the US$2-billion (R20-billion) investment would extend the life of the mine beyond 2040 while replacing the open pit as South Africa’s largest diamond mine.
The new mine is expected to start underground production in 2021, De Beers said, and to treat in the region of 130-million tonnes of ore containing an estimated 96-million carats of diamonds over its life span, in the process creating over 8 000 jobs directly and a further 5 000 jobs through the supply chain.
President Jacob Zuma, speaking at the sod-turning ceremony in Musina on Tuesday, said De Beers’ investment, “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”.
Zuma said the government was investing time and effort in strengthening the mining sector so that it could contribute “to inclusive growth and jobs as envisaged in the National Development Plan”.
Mineral Resources Minister Susan Shabangu, also speaking at Tuesday’s ceremony, said the start of construction on the new mine showed that South Africa “remains an investment destination of choice,” adding that the government would continue, through legislation, to ensure that such investment “sustainably benefits mining communities and labour-sending areas”.
Mark Cutifani, chief executive of Anglo American and chairman of De Beers, said Anglo American’s roots were firmly in South Africa.
“Over the last 14 years alone, Anglo American has invested nearly R200-billion in South Africa, emphasising our 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.”