De Beers sells underground Kimberley operations

The world’s biggest diamond mining group, De Beers, has agreed to sell its loss-making Kimberley underground mines to Petra Diamonds and its black partners, De Beers said on Thursday.

De Beers said in a statement details of the transaction, including the financial settlement and output figures for the underground mine, would be given at a media briefing on Friday, at which Petra’s black partners, Sedibeng Mining, will be present.

The Kimberley underground operations in the Northern Cape province were closed in late 2005 by De Beers, which is 45% owned by Anglo American.

“Petra and its empowerment partner will reopen the previously closed operations and will bring new production onto the market,” Tom Tweedy, De Beers’ spokesperson, said.

Petra, a Southern Africa-focused diamond miner, also bought the loss-making South African Koffiefontein mine from De Beers in 2006, but the paperwork for the deal was only finalised a few weeks ago, Tweedy said.

Petra operates a wide-ranging exploration portfolio across Angola, Botswana, Sierra Leone and South Africa.

De Beers has, through its local arm, De Beers Consolidated Mines, been running the Kimberley mines surface operations, even after shutting the underground mines.

De Beers said in February it wanted to sell its struggling Kimberley Underground and Cullinan mines and other dormant diamond resources in and around Kimberley.

Tweedy said the sale of the Cullinan mine was proceeding with a short list of bidders seeking to buy the mine but could give no further detail on the progress.—Reuters

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