The owner of one of the world’s most famous diamond mines could be about a decade away from clearing its multi-million-dollar debts, in a sign of the struggles facing an industry assailed by synthetic rivals and uncertain demand. Petra Diamonds bought Cullinan in 2008, aiming to breathe new life into the SA mine renowned for yielding the largest rough gem diamond ever found — 3,106 carats — and being the world’s main source of rare blue diamonds. The London-listed miner, which acquired Cullinan from industry leader De Beers, borrowed heavily to revamp the facility and began mining a new section of ore last July. Petra told Reuters its debts from the mine stood at about 65% of its overall $650m in borrowing, which would represent about $420m.

Cullinan’s general manager Juan Kemp added that it could take “between five and 10 years” from the opening of the new section to clear the debts related to the mine. That goes beyond the 2022 maturity of Petra’s bond notes. Petra’s CEO Joh...

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