JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) – Like a diamond itself, diamond investment in South Africa is having a ‘forever’ tag pinned on its back as the world’s largest diamond company by value speaks glowingly of its $2-billion investment that is turning South Africa’s Limpopo province into one that hosts the world’s most advanced underground diamond mine, and how Gauteng province is progressively laying on sparkling local beneficiation consolidation in the promising Gauteng Industrial Development Zone.
De Beers has been investing in South Africa since 1888 and Al Cook, the upbeat new CEO of the De Beers Group, stated unequivocally from the podium during the grand opening of the company’s latest diamond investment that the 135-year-old De Beers is not only honoured to still be “actively” investing in the future of South Africa, but that it is also doing so “confidently”.
Sending sentiment sky high was Friday’s far-reaching grand opening of De Beers brand new Sky Park sparkler, close to the OR Tambo International Airport, where Cook spelt out how new ideas are becoming new diamond investments. (Also watch attached Creamer Media video.)
“Success in the diamond industry requires large long-term investments, which in turn rely on a secure, stable and predictable investment climate – and that is exactly what we have experienced from our partners in government as we have developed our business,” said Cook.
“Enduring partnership is at the core of what diamonds symbolise and partnership will define our activities here at Sightholder Sales South Africa,” he enthused.
Earlier, Mining Weekly had accompanied Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe and Gauteng Economic Development MEC Tasneem Motara on their walk through the impressive new Sightholder Sales South Africa edifice to witness rough diamond sorting, which supports investment in local cutting and polishing factories. These have employed 620 cutters and polishers since 2020.
The 6 747 m2 Sky Park facility – which is part of the global sightholder network that sells rough diamonds for beneficiation purposes in South Africa, Botswana, Namibia and Canada – has two floors comprising sightholder offices, hand and machine sorting areas, a training academy and a diamond cleaning plant.
“That’s what this facility represents. It’s filled with diamond experts, diamond technology and diamonds,” said Cook, who reaffirmed the belief of De Beers that the diamonds that the company discovers create enduring value for host countries.
In practice, this means that De Beers must ensure that more citizens derive more value from their precious natural resource.
It also means that De Beers must ensure that more citizens have the opportunity to add more value to their precious natural resource.
“Your diamond dream is our diamond dream and it is why we in De Beers are undertaking the single largest capital investment in South Africa’s diamond sector. We’re investing $2-billion in developing our Venetia operation.
“All of this work will ensure that Venetia continues to be a leading diamond supplier through to the 2040s and potentially beyond,” Cook added.
De Beers sells more than 40% of its South African diamond production to customers who have set up cutting and polishing operations in this country and has a programme that promotes local jewellery design talent.
It has partnered with government and industry to support the emergence and growth of small South African-owned beneficiation companies.
“It’s why we have established this new facility here at Sky Park. The relocation of this capability supports the government’s strategy to consolidate the country’s mineral beneficiation sector.
“With the inauguration of our operation here, we aim to work with the government and with wider industry to encourage the growth of a South African diamond business hub that stimulates development of the local diamond sector, generating creativity and economic opportunity through sharing ideas and sharing expertise and bringing local skills to an international audience.
“We know from experience that this approach is effective and we’ve already started to make progress.
“Our new home and a national centre for diamond beneficiation creates an opportunity to work even more closely with all the actors in the local industry helping to shape new opportunities through our collaborations.
“We now look forward to continuing to work together with all our stakeholders for the advancement of South Africa, De Beers and the global diamond industry,” Cook enthused.