DE BEERS Group has produced its first diamonds from about a kilometre underground at its Venetia mine in South Africa’s Limpopo province.
Production comes more than 10 years and some $2.3bn of development and was described by De Beers today as “a key milestone”.
Previously, De Beers operated Venetia as an open pit mine. It closed in December 2022 after about 30 years of production.
The underground operation, employing about 4 300 people, is now 70% complete, the group said. The mine is expected to produce between 4.5 million and 5.5 million carats of diamonds annually.
De Beers managed operations’ director Moses Madondo said the investment enhanced the group’s “production for the long term” and was an indication of its commitment to South Africa. “We look forward to seeing this high performing team continue the good work as we ramp up production over the next few years,” he said.
Earlier this month, De Beers said it had reached an in-principle agreement with the Botswana government on a new 10-year rough diamonds sales deal.
The agreement covers diamonds produced by their joint venture Debswana through to 2033. New 25-year Debswana mining licence agreements through to 2054 have also been concluded, the government said.
Debswana is owned equally between De Beers and the Government of Botswana.
In terms of the new deal Botswana’s state-owned diamond trader will get 30% of output from Debswana. The government said there’s also an agreement — still tentative at this stage — for that share to eventually increase to as high as 50%, said Bloomberg News.