Aerial view of the
Alto Cuilo diamond
operation in Angola
 
Luanda, Angola — MININGREVIEW.COM — 20 October 2008 – Portuguese conglomerate Escom expects to produce 180 000 carats of diamonds per month by July of 2010 from a joint venture mine in Angola, which is one of the world’s largest diamond operations.

Escom chairman Helder Bataglia said in an interview with Reuters that  the Camatchia-Camagico mine in Angola’s north-east diamond region of Lunda Norte was currently in a testing phase, and produced only 204 000 carats last year.

“The kimberlite of Camatchia-Camagico is one of the biggest in the world,” Bataglia explained.

“The mine contains very high quality diamonds which are known worldwide and are some of the most expensive in Angola,” he added.

Escom and Russian state-owned Alrosa hold a 45% stake in the Camatchia-Camagico project, while Angolan state-owned Endiama and other local partners hold the remaining 55%.

Escom – controlled by Portugal’s Grupo Espirito Santo – is Angola’s biggest non-oil investor, with interests ranging from mining to real estate and agriculture. The company has invested around US$1 billion (R10 billion) in Angola.

Bataglia went on to say that Escom was optimistic it would soon find significant diamond reserves at 14 other mining concessions it held  in the country with partner BHP Billiton.

“Next year we will find out which of the 14 concessions contain kimberlite,” he said.

“We have found probable reserves, but I cannot provide estimates since we have not yet informed the regulator. I would say our geologists are optimistic and there will be some pleasant surprises regarding new discoveries,” Bataglia continued.

He also revealed that Escom was looking to explore for base metals such as copper, iron and magnesium in Angola, and that it was interested in entering the oil industry. Angola rivals Nigeria as Africa’s biggest oil producer.