De Beers to Close Another Diamond Mine

SourcingAug 01, 2018

De Beers to Close Another Diamond Mine

It’s the Voorspoed mine in South Africa and its closure would leave De Beers with just one mine in the country.

Workers at the Voorspoed Mine in Free State Province, South Africa. The mine will close by Dec. 31 unless the South African Department of Mineral Resources can find a suitable buyer in the next month, De Beers announced Wednesday.

Johannesburg, South Africa—De Beers Group said Wednesday it will move forward with previously announced plans to close the Voorspoed Mine, unless South Africa’s Department of Mineral Resources comes through on its last-ditch effort to save the mine and the 900-plus jobs it provides.

Voorspoed opened in 2008 and was projected to produce for approximately 10 years.

Last November, as the mine was nearing the end of its life, De Beers announced that it was looking for a buyer for Voorspoed.

Phillip Barton, the CEO of De Beers Consolidated Mines (the South African arm of De Beers Group), told that though the company received 42 expressions of interest and ended up with a total of four final bids, none met the financial, technical and social criteria necessary to run the mine, and so the DBCM board voted to close it.

The plan is for Voorspoed to close by year’s end, though De Beers said it is “not opposed” to a proposal from the Department of Mineral Resources to give it until Aug. 31 to make its own effort to find a buyer for the mine.

Located in the Free State Province, Voorspoed is an open-pit diamond mine that provides employment for a total of 967 individuals: 407 permanent employees and 560 contractors.

If it closes, that will leave De Beers with just one diamond mine in South Africa, a nation that was once the center of the company’s diamond-mining empire and has produced some of the world’s most notable stones, including the 3,106-carat Cullinan Diamond, which remains the largest rough diamond ever found.  

The other De Beers South African mine is Venetia in the Limpopo Province. De Beers is currently investing $2 billion to take the mine underground and expand its operating life into the 2040s.

Voorspoed joins the growing list of mines closed by De Beers in the past few years, which includes the Kimberley Mines in South Africa, and the Snap Lake and Victor mines in Canada.

Michelle Graffis the editor-in-chief at National Jeweler, directing the publication’s coverage both online and in print.

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