Picture: SIMON DAWSON/BLOOMBERG
Picture: SIMON DAWSON/BLOOMBERG

Another De Beers mine is coming to the end of its life, bringing to seven the operations closed or to close after the largest rough diamond miner by value told the market it would shut the Victor mine in Canada early in 2019.

The closure of this opencast mine follows the shutting and subsequent flooding of the unprofitable Snap Lake underground mine in Canada in 2015.

De Beers is close to deciding whether to close or sell its open-pit Voorspoed mine in SA, and a union leader told The Namibian Sun it would close four mines in Namibia in coming years.

De Beers has not confirmed the comments from Mineworkers Union of Namibia Oranjemund branch chairman Mbidhi Shavuka, who was quoted as saying the four mines would close by 2022.

De Beers CE Bruce Cleaver has overseen the launch of a large ship to mine diamonds off the Namibian coast.

The company said Victor, in Ontario province, had produced 1-million carats more than its

6-million-carat target and would operate at full tilt until it closed in 2019’s first quarter.

“While we are focused on … maintaining production for the duration of operations, we are planning responsibly for Victor mine’s closure,” said Kim Truter, the CE of De Beers Canada.

“Once the mine pit has been depleted in 2019, the demolition and environmental monitoring phase is expected to take three to five years. De Beers is working closely with community partners to create opportunities for employment and awarding contracts that will be required during this phase,” he said.

De Beers’ sole remaining operational asset in Canada will be its 51% stake in the 4.5-million carats-a-year Gahcho Kué mine in the Northwest Territories.

De Beers, an 85%-owned subsidiary of Anglo American, spent $1bn to build Victor, which began commercial production in 2008. De Beers has estimated the mine would contribute C$6.7bn ($5.2bn) to Ontario’s economy over its life.

In the first half of 2017, Canada produced 1.6-million carats, compared with 300,000 carats in the same period a year earlier, as Gahcho Kué ramped up to full production. Victor contributed 400,000 carats in the interim period in 2017.

De Beers, which will be down to a single mine in SA from 2020, had 54 exploration applications waiting at the Department of Mineral Resources, some of which had been stuck for two years.

It had suspended its R40m annual exploration budget in the country, SA CE Philip Barton said recently.

The focus of De Beers Consolidated Mines, the company’s South African subsidiary, is on bringing its $2bn Venetia mine into commercial production of 4.5-million carats a year.

seccombea@bdfm.co.za

 

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