De Beers Mines First Diamonds From Venetia Underground
De Beers Group announced late last month it has recovered the first diamonds from the $2.2 billion underground expansion at South Africa’s Venetia mine, a project expected to extend the mine’s life by 20-plus years.
The underground portion of Venetia is comprised of two orebodies known as K01 and K02. De Beers expects them to produce a combined 4.5 million to 5.5 million carats of diamonds annually, making it one of the company’s key assets worldwide.
K01, the larger of the two orebodies, will provide the majority of production, an average of 3.5 million carats from about 4.5 million tons of material per year.
The rest, about 1 million carats from 1.5 million-2.5 million tons of material, will come from K02.
De Beers began working on the underground expansion at Venetia in 2012, and said it is now 70 percent complete.
Construction and production ramp-up are slated to continue over the next few years, with the project extending Venetia’s life to at least 2046.
Venetia, De Beers’ only remaining diamond mine in South Africa following the closure of Voorspoed a few years ago, opened in 1992. Open-pit operations at the mine ceased last year.
De Beers said the $2 billion it is sinking into Venetia underground is the single biggest investment in the country’s diamond mining industry in decades.
The underground project currently employs 4,300 people, mostly from the local Musina and Blouberg municipalities.
De Beers commissioned construction of a $10.5 million training center in June 2021 to transition the mine’s people, processes, and systems from an open-pit to an underground operation.
The company said to date it has successfully trained and transitioned 180 people, without any job losses among the mine’s permanent employees.
Moses Madondo, managing director of De Beers Group Managed Operations, said: “The investment in taking the world class Venetia Mine underground enhances De Beers Group’s global production for the long term and is an indication of our commitment to South Africa.
“We look forward to seeing [Venetia’s] high-performing team continue the good work as we ramp up production over the next few years, bringing profound benefits to our workforce, our host communities, commercial partners and South Africa as a whole.”