De Beers puts South Africa’s Voorspoed mine up for sale

Voorspoed diamond mine in Kroonstad, Free State, South Africa. (Image: De Beers Group.)

De Beers, the world’s largest rough diamond producer by value, has put its South African Voorspoed diamond mine on the chopping block

The Anglo American unit, which is currently spending $2 billion on the Venetia underground diamond mining project in Limpopo, says the move paves the way for a lower-cost operator to take Voorspoed beyond 2020, when it is scheduled to close.

Potential buyers will be required to exhibit a record of success technically and financially, and to meet all applicable regulatory and social requirements while economically and sustainably operating the mine.

De Beers says move paves the way for a lower-cost operator to take the diamond mine beyond 2020, when it is scheduled to close.

“Based on our experience with other operations, we believe the most responsible course of action is to give other lower-cost operators the opportunity to purchase the mine and potentially extend its life,” the chief executive of De Beers Consolidated Mines, Phillip Barton, said in the statement. “This will maximize the benefit for the community and the mine’s workers,” he noted.

De Beers has appointed the Standard Bank of South Africa Limited as financial adviser on the proposed disposal process of Voorspoed, located in Kroonstad, Free State, the company said.

Diamond exploration in South Africa is at multi-decade lows due to increasing red-tape in the granting of prospecting licenses. De Beers itself, which will be down to a single mine in South Africa after the sale of Voorspoed, has 54 exploration applications stuck with the Department of Mineral Resources, some for two years, according to Business Live.

Explorers are also wary of perceived risks of a new Mining Charter, currently being challenged in court.

Department of Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane has agreed not to implement the charter until there’s a judgment in an ongoing judicial review case.

The court hearing, however, has been postponed to February from December, the Chamber of Mines said on Monday.

Voorspoed, one of South Africa’s largest diamond mines, is not the only operation De Beers will see soon gone from its portfolio. Early this month, the company announced it was shutting its Victor mine, the first and only commercial diamond operation in the Canadian province of Ontario, in early 2019.

The company is also said to have decided to close four mines in Namibia by 2022, Mineworkers Union of Namibia Oranjemund branch chairman, Mbidhi Shavuka, told The Namibian Sun (subs. required).