The investment extends life of South Africa’s largest diamond mine, securing employment for thousands, writes Vicky Sidler.The De Beers Group of Companies today began construction of a new underground mine beneath its open pit Venetia Mine in Limpopo Province, South Africa. The R20 billion (US$2 billion) investment will extend the life of Venetia beyond 2040 and replace the open pit as South Africa’s largest diamond mine. 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 – benefitting the South African economy. His Excellency President Jacob Zuma, President of the Republic of South Africa and guest of honour, symbolically turned the first earth at a ceremony held at the Venetia Mine today. Also present were, amongst others, Honourable Susan Shabangu, Minister of Mineral Resources; Sir John Parker, Chairman of Anglo American plc; Mark Cutifani, Chief Executive of Anglo American plc and Chairman of The De Beers Group, Philippe Mellier, CEO of The De Beers Group; Barend Petersen, Chairman of De Beers Consolidated Mines (DBCM), Manne Dipico, Chairman of DBCM empowerment shareholder Ponahalo Holdings; and Phillip Barton, CEO of DBCM.
His Excellency President Zuma praised the investment by De Beers to extend the life of the mine into the 2040s, “Let me, again, welcome the launch of this construction phase of the Venetia underground project. This 20 billion Rand 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.”The Minister of Mineral Resources, Susan Shabangu, also commended the company’s investment decision, adding that 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 Chairman of The De Beers Group, said, “Anglo American’s roots are firmly in South Africa, and we have been a proud investor here for almost 100 years. Over the last 14 years alone, Anglo American has invested nearly 200 billion Rand 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.” Philippe Mellier, CEO of The De Beers Group, said, “125 years ago, here in South Africa, De Beers created an industry that it has led ever since. As De Beers expanded beyond borders and into new markets, our heritage has always been inextricably linked with South Africa. There can be no greater vote of confidence by our shareholders in South Africa and De Beers than the decision to build an underground mine of the future here at Venetia, one of a handful of world-class diamond mines around the world. With production set to continue into the 2040s, Venetia will support South Africa’s mining economy for generations to come, and make diamond moments possible for millions of people around the world.”