By Michelle Graff
The diamond recovery plant (Combined Treatment Plant) at Kimberley Mines is seen in the background of this photo provided by De Beers. De Beers is looking to sell its current operations on the site, where diamonds have been mined for more t
London--The De Beers Group of Companies is looking for a buyer for the Kimberley Mines in South Africa, a site where diamonds have been dug up since the 1870s.

According to De Beers, mining in Kimberley began about 20 years before the company was formed in 1888. De Beers eventually came to be in control of Kimberley and while De Beers has just a tailings-based operation there today, it is technically the company’s oldest operating mine. 

A tailings-based operation is one that treats materials from a “mine dump” or tailings residue site, basically sifting through previously processed material to recover any diamonds missed in the first round of treatment. 

De Beers said it hasn’t been mining underground at Kimberley since the early 2000s, when it sold the site’s three historic underground mines--Dutoitspan, Wesselton and Bultfontein--to Petra Diamonds, which still owns and operates them today. 

While Kimberley Mines is De Beers’s second-largest producer in South Africa, with carat output totaling 722,000 in 2014, it is a “mature operation” that produces the lowest value diamonds of any De Beers mine, the company said. Its output is “marginal” when looked at in context with the company’s other mines.

Parties interested in purchasing Kimberley Mines have until May 29 to state their interest in writing. They then will receive an application that has to be submitted by mid-June. After that, there is a “very detailed” process whereby applicants are evaluated. Their names are kept confidential during this process.

De Beers said it has had an “encouraging number” of interested parties so far.

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