Aerial view of the
plant at Petra’s Alto
Cuilo project, in Angola
 
Johannesburg, South Africa — MININGREVIEW.COM — 07 July 2008 – Petra Diamonds Limited – the AIM- and Australian-listed diamond mining group focused on the exploration and mining of diamonds – expects to increase diamond production in its South African mines five-fold to more than 1 million carats a year by 2010.

“Current production is in excess of 200 000 carats per annum, and we will produce in excess of 1 million carats per annum by June 2010,” Petra CEO Johan Dippenaar told Reuters in a telephone interview here. “Cullinan mine will be a huge contributor to that production figure,” he added.

Through a series of acquisitions, Petra Diamonds has transformed itself from an explorer into a mid-tier producer with six mines in South Africa.

Reuters reports that in 2007, Petra reached agreement to acquire three former De Beers operations: Cullinan (including the C-Cut) – one of the largest diamond resources in the world –  Koffiefontein and Kimberley Underground, adding substantial production capacity to its three fissure mines, Helam, Sedibeng and Star.

The acquisition of Koffiefontein was completed in July 2007, and the news agency says the acquisition of Cullinan and Kimberley Underground – which produce high-quality white diamonds – is expected to be completed soon.

Petra Diamonds also has exploration projects located in Angola, Botswana and Sierra Leone. Angola is a particularly exciting prospect because there are a number of virgin exploration works there. “Most experts agree that Angola is the most promising place to bring about the next big diamond mine," Dippenaar said.

Petra Diamonds is concentrating its efforts on Africa, and has no immediate plans to look further afield. “We remain focused on the continent of Africa for the time being," Dippenaar concluded.