De Beers helping ex-workers become wind, abalone farmers, prison wardens and undersea gold miners

Mining Weekly reports De Beers is going all out to create 5,000 non-mining jobs in Namaqualand over the next five years as it exits a region on the South African west coast where it has mined for the past 90 years.

Projects include a wind farm, abalone culturing for export to China where it is a highly prized delicacy, a prison warden training facility and a joint venture with sister company Anglogold for undersea gold mining. The company has recently come under fire over plans to sell the properties including two towns to a much smaller outfit that will have to take responsibility for rehabilitation over a 970 square km area pockmarked by open pits.

Mining Weekly reports De Beers Northern Cape Heritage GM Christie Pisane, who spoke to a visiting media contingent, said that since opening an enterprise development hub in August, R14 million ($1.7 million) has been granted in low-interest loans to non-mining enterprises that have already created 400 jobs. reported last week the local community has lodged a land claim against De Beers and also wants the sale stopped. South Africa’s department of Mineral Resources is expected to make a decision on the approval of an amended environmental management programme and the transfer of mining rights within weeks.