By Michelle Graff
London--De Beers has inked an agreement to sell its oldest diamond mining site, the historic Kimberley Mines in South Africa, to a consortium of two mining companies for $7.2 million.

This file photo provided by De Beers shows the Kimberley Mines’ combined treatment plant in the background.Petra Diamonds Ltd. and Ekapa Mining (Pty) Ltd. are purchasing Kimberley together as Ekapa Minerals (Pty) Ltd. At 50.1 percent, Ekapa will have a slightly larger stake in the operation than Petra (49.9 percent).

The acquisition includes what remains of the diamond mining operations there--a number of tailings dumps and a combined treatment plant--plus Kimberley’s employees and all other assets and liabilities. Tailings dumps consist of previously processed material that is put aside and then sifted through again, in case any diamonds were missed the first time around.

Ekapa will be the lead operator of the Kimberley Mines, with company CEO and founder Jahn Hohne, a GIA gemologist, managing the site.

Ekapa is a mid-sized tailings mineral resources (TMR) processing business that has been operating in Kimberley for more than 25 years, and already owns a share in TMRs sourced from the famous five-cluster of old Kimberley mines.

London-based Petra has an interest in a total of five producing mines, four in South Africa and one in Tanzania, which just yielded a 23.16-carat pink diamond. Its holdings already include Kimberley Underground, which consists of Dutoitspan, Wesselton and Bultfontein, the site’s three historic underground mines. It purchased them from De Beers in the early 2000s.
De Beers announced in the spring that it was looking for a buyer for the Kimberley Mines, and said upon its sale this week that it had more than 70 “expressions of interest” in the operation.

Diamond mining first began on the site where Kimberley Mines sits today about 20 years before De Beers officially was formed, in 1888. The company has been mining there for its entire history but hasn’t had underground operations on the site since selling them to Petra.

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