De Beers ups new South Africa mine investment to $1.9 billion

BusinessDay reports De Beers has no intention of reducing its interests in South Africa and will up planned investment in its new Venetia underground mine by more than $600 million to $1.9 billion.

The Venetia expansion comes after the company this week signed a new $2 billion multi-currency credit facility and the sale of its disused SA mines. De Beers Consolidated Mines delisted from the Johannesburg Stock Exchange in May of 2001 after more than a hundred years on the South Africa bourse when the Oppenheimer family took the firm private.

BusinessDay reports the assurances by De Beers CEO Phillip Barton came amid concern expressed at a mineral resources committee hearing in Parliament on Wednesday that the company is withdrawing from South Africa.

The $1.9 billion (R15 billion) would be invested over the next seven to eight years in the new underground mine at Venetia in the northern Limpopo province. It has one of the world’s top five deposits and generates about 80% of De Beers output according to BusinessDay. reported last week 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.

De Beers is 45%-owned by Anglo American PLC (LON:AAL), 40% by the Oppenheimer family and 15% by the government of Botswana. De Beers traces its history back to Kimberly South Africa with the discovery of diamonds in 1871.