De Beers Opens Voorspoed Diamond Mine

The De Beers Voorspoed Diamond Mine in South Africa was officially opened Tuesday by Buyelwa Sonjica, South African Minister of Minerals and Energy.

Sonjica was joined at the opening ceremony by Nicky Oppenheimer, De Beers Group chairman, Manne Dipico, chairman of De Beers’ Broad Based Black Economic Empowerment partner, Ponahalo Holdings Limited, and the deputy chairman of De Beers Consolidated Mines, Gareth Penny, De Beers Group managing director, and David Noko, DBCM managing director. The mine Operations Manager, Andy Taylor, hosted the guests, with leaders of local government, members of the community and all mine staff. South Africa is the home of the modern diamond mining industry following the discovery of diamonds in 1866.

Voorspoed is the first De Beers mine to be opened in South Africa since DBCM entered into the groundbreaking BBBEE transaction with Ponahalo in 2006. The mine has an exemplary environmental, rehabilitation, and eventual closure plan that began to be implemented before construction of the mine, and long before the first diamond was even recovered from the ground, De Beers said in a statement. As a result, Voorspoed has a far-reaching environmental and social investment program that has already begun to ensure that the mine’s impact will be felt in the
communities in which De Beers and Ponahalo operate. 

As a new generation mine, Voorspoed will be operated by a new generation of miner, De Beers said. Voorspoed employees are more qualified than is traditional for a mining environment in South Africa. All employees have fully completed secondary school, and many have had tertiary education. The mine already has an outstanding record of ‘women in mining’ and 25 per cent of technical and mining jobs are held by women, while 36 percent of the mine complement is female.

“This is an historic milestone for De Beers and our empowerment business partners,” Oppenheimer said. “Voorspoed is the embodiment of insights we have made throughout our years of operation, about how to operate an efficient mine in a way that helps our producer partners achieve their aspirations of turning natural resources into shared national wealth.  I am particularly pleased that Ponahalo has played such an active role in developing this new mine and in involving the community, members of which account for nearly fiftyper cent of the Voorspoed workforce.”

Voorspoed is the first major new diamond mine to be opened in South Africa for almost two decades. It is expected to produce approximately 800,000 carats per year when in full production. The mine will ramp up production from a position of having produced approximately 60,000 carats by October 2008. It is situated approximately 18 miles northeast of Kroonstad in the Fezile Dabi District of the Free State Province.