Kinshasa, DRC — MININGREVIEW.COM — 07 April 2009 – The De Beers Group – the world’s largest diamond producer – has halted exploration in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in the face of the declining value in the gemstones, which has made the project unviable.
“The DRC remains highly prospective, but we cannot ignore the current global economic crisis,” said the De Beers DRC head of administration Marie-Chantal Kaninda in a statement emailed to Bloomberg News from here. “When economic conditions improve, De Beers will assess new opportunities for accessing prospective ground holdings in this country.”
In February De Beers suspended mining at its Botswana mines, and last month the group received government approval to halt production at its Namibian mine from 1 April 2009 for a period of three months due to weak sales.
Anglo American Plc owns 45% of De Beers, the Oppenheimer family owns 40%, and the government of Botswana the rest.
De Beers has discovered 14 kimberlites since starting exploration in the DRC’s central Western Kasai province in 2005, it said in the statement. It added that the company had handed its camp in Bena Luabeya, near the diamond center of Mbuji Mayi, to the local population.