Wednesday, August 10, 2022

De Beers starts development of Venetia underground mine project

De Beers has started the R20 billion new underground mining project beneath its open pit Venetia Diamond Mine in Limpopo Province of South Africa in a bid to boost its diamond production. Venetia is South Africa’s largest diamond mine.

The whopping investment is expected to prolong the life of the mine beyond 2040. Botswana’s government currently has a 15 percent shareholding in De Beers.

With underground production at the mine expected to start in 2021, the mine will treat approximately 130 million tonnes of ore, containing an estimated 96 million carats, over its lifeline. The underground mining project is forecast to create at least 8,000 jobs directly, and a further 5,000 through the supply chain thus benefitting the South African economy.

Launching the construction phase of the project, Anglo American Plc and De Beers chairman, Mark Cutifani, said his company has been part of the South African mining and business industry for the past 125 years. He said throughout that period, De Beers has consistently developed long standing partnerships in the diamond industry in the southern African country.

“The journey of mineral discovery, investment, marketing and the consequences of industrialization have brought us all together with a common interest in this great industry, be we in government, mining companies, investors, union representatives, communities associated with mines, or service and product suppliers,” he said.

He said mining deserves a better reputation globally as it takes up less than one percent of the earth’s surface, while driving directly and indirectly around 45 percent of the world’s economy.

Cutifani added that the world over, mining is the most important activity after agriculture. He said without mining it would be difficult to feed 50 percent of the world’s population, carbon gas emission would be uncontrollable and it would be also difficult to have sufficient fresh water supply.

“In South Africa I feel that mining was a fly wheel of our economy, with the expansion of the mining sector also spawning thousands of South African businesses of the sector,” he said.

On the construction of the underground mine, Cutifani said that such an undertaking begins by employing a few dozen people, fast rising to a few hundred and fully inducted people, adding that many are recruited locally. He said that in 2016 when the lateral development begins there will be an exciting bee hive of activity designed with optimum safety in mind and engaging the skills upwards of a thousand people, peaking at 1 400 in 2017.

“This work will be made possible by hundreds of women and men in geosciences laboratories, modeling the mine and business plans in investment committees, project offices in cities and temporary villages, in shaft sinking teams, tunneling, blasting, ventilation, load and haul operations and hundreds of other important jobs to bring about by 2021, the liberation of the first 0.2 grams of diamond one carat mined from the new underground operation, then proceed through the metallurgical recovery plant,” he said.

Cufani said that mining has a crucial role to play in laying foundations for communities to develop and prosper, especially in rural and remote areas. He said that Venetia mine has already created more than 2 500 jobs adding that the mine benefits thousands more people in the Limpopo Province and the rest of the country.

“Anglo American’s roots are firmly in South Africa and we have been a proud owner here for almost 100 years. Over the last 14 years alone, Anglo American has invested nearly 200 billion rand in South Africa, emphasizing our commitment and making a real difference for all South Africans,” Cutifani said.

He added that Venetia mine already touches the lives of the many communities of the many communities who live in the region particularly in the Limpopo Province. He said they have in place skills development programmes to improve education as part of their corporate social responsibility.

De Beers Venetia Mine is situated in Limpopo Province of South Africa, close to the border of Botswana and Zimbabwe and is South Africa’s leading producer of diamonds. The mine was opened in 1992 and is currently an open pit operation producing approximately three million carats per annum.

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