De Beers Consolidated Mines (DBCM), the company’s South African division, plans to close and then rehabilitate the Voorspoed mine (pictured) in the Free State province at end of the year.
The decision follows an unsuccessful attempt to find a suitable buyer for the mine.
“We have reluctantly taken the decision to close the operation, in a responsible manner, as it is no longer economically viable for DBCM to operate the mine,” said Phillip Barton, CEO of De Beers Consolidated Mines in a statement. “We do not underestimate the impact this will have on Voorspoed mine’s employees, and we have put in place appropriate support structures.”
The company pledged to engage with all stakeholders, including unions and the South African government, during the closure and make sure it continues to uphold the highest safety standards at the mine.
Voorspoed opened in 2008 and was always predicted to have a 10-to-15-year life span. The mine was known for producing colored diamonds, and in 2015, it produced 704,000 carats of rough. Billed as a mine with a better-educated workforce, and a greater percentage of female employees, than standard diamond operations, Voorspoed was at its debut the first major mine in South Africa in over two decades.
Former CEO Philippe Mellier first mentioned possibly selling Voorspoed in 2014.
The move leaves De Beers with Venetia as its sole diamond mine in South Africa, its onetime home base. Over the years, De Beers has sold off just about all of its South African properties, including the Finsch, Kimberley, and Cullinan (formerly Premier) mines.
De Beers recently invested $2 billion to begin underground mining at Venetia, which will extend the mine’s life for another three decades. Venetia opened in 1992 and is based in the Limpopo province.
Two weeks ago, De Beers bought Canadian miner Peregrine for $81 million.
(Image courtesy of De Beers)