Southern Africa – Diamond miner De Beers’ 36 % increase in underlying operating profit to almost $1.4-billion for 2014 is very important for the future growth of the diamond company, CEO Philippe Mellier says.

So much so that De Beers is able to commit $3-billion over the coming years to a number of investment projects, including the extension of two of its flagship projects in Africa, namely the Jwaneng mine in Botswana and the Venetia mine in South Africa,

De Beers is also investing in Canada, where a new mine is being developed.

“[The development and expansion of] these are vital, not just to our own success, but to ensuring that the countries in which we operate benefit from the natural resource that we mine,” Mellier commented.

At Jwaneng, the world’s richest diamond mine by value, in southern Botswana, the Cut-8 project will extend mining operations until at least 2025 and produce somewhere in the region of 110-million carats in the process.

“Of the 1 400 jobs created by Cut-8, almost 90% were allocated to Botswana citizens, helping ensure that our presence benefits local communities as much as possible,” says Mellier.

He believes that the Cut-8 project builds on the strong foundations of De Beers’ 45-year partnership with the government of the Republic of Botswana, who, for every $5 generated through De Beers’ mining and related activities in the country, $4 is fed back to government revenues through taxation and dividends.

Meanwhile, in South Africa, where De Beers’ story began some 126 years ago, the company’s largest ever investment to build a new underground mine beneath the current open-pit mine at Venetia is on track to open in 2021. When operational, around 94-million carats will be produced up to 2040, seeing it replace the current open-pit as South Africa’s largest mine.

Mellier says that most of the 3 000 people working on the project are from the surrounding Limpopo province, have been given the relevant training by De Beers and will go on to help develop the country’s growing technical skills base once the project is complete.

Keeping ahead with technology

De Beers is not just investing in its operations; it is securing its future through technological advancements, particularly the devices focused on distinguishing between natural diamonds and synthetics or simulants.

“The development of our DiamondSure, DiamondView, DiamondPlus and Automated Melee Screening devices means that the industry can readily identify all synthetics and simulants and this helps to bolster people’s faith that the diamonds they purchase are of natural origin,” Mellier notes.

Both operational and technological advancements at De Beers are built around the idea that performance isn’t just measured by profit. “Strong profits should always be underpinned by a strong purpose for the benefit of our partners across the diamond pipeline: business, government and community. Only then can we ensure that ‘diamond dreams’ become lasting realities for all,” Philippe concludes.

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