De Beers Group has celebrated a key milestone with the delivery of first production from underground operations at its Venetia mine in Limpopo, South Africa.
The overall construction of the underground mine is now 70% complete, with construction and production ramp-up continuing over the next few years.
Venetia, considered South Africa’s leading diamond mine, ceased open-pit mining operations in December 2022 after 30 years of production from the Tier 1 asset. De Beers embarked on the US$2.3 billion underground expansion in 2012, in what represents the biggest single investment in the country’s diamond mining industry in decades.
The highly mechanized underground operation will deliver up to 7 million tonnes of kimberlite ore per year to produce about 4 million carats of diamonds annually.
“The investment in taking the world-class Venetia mine underground enhances De Beers Group’s global production for the long term and is an indication of our commitment to South Africa,” said Moses Madondo, Managing Director of De Beers Group Managed Operations.
“We look forward to seeing this high performing team continue the good work as we ramp up production over the next few years, bringing profound benefits to our workforce, our host communities, commercial partners and South Africa as a whole.”
The underground project currently employs 4,300 people, mostly from the host communities of Musina and Blouberg municipalities. De Beers also commissioned a $10.5 million training centre in June 2021 as part of its operational readiness framework to enhance the transformation of people, processes and systems for the successful transition from open-pit to underground mining.
To date, a total of 180 employees have successfully transitioned to underground operations without any job losses for Venetia mine’s permanent employees.
Source: De Beers