Venetia diamond mine opens multi-million rand empowerment deal to the community

De Beers has announced the opening of a major empowerment deal related to the bussing of its employees to and from its operations at Venetia mine. In a one of its kind high impact local procurement and empowerment initiative Venetia mine in partnership with VM Diamond Transport are seeking local HDSA owned businesses to become 40% shareholders in the soon to be established bussing companies in Musina and Blouberg.

The proposed business model will see these entities purchase shares and participate in the operation of an eight year bussing contract for Venetia mine. In support of the De Beers socio-economic development strategy, these companies will participate in a two year business development program sponsored by De Beers with technical training provided by VM Diamond Transport. The aim is for these empowerment partners to obtain a majority share of the business within five years.

“We believe that empowerment deals such as this one have the power to transform the socio-economic landscape of our mining communities. By focussing on women, youth and disabled owned entities we hope to see an impact where it is needed the most” says Venetia General Manager, Benford Mokoatle.

This empowerment deal is one of 50 expressions of interest that De Beers has set aside for local SMEs operating in their labour sending areas. Similar opportunities include a partnership with Bridgestone, Global Wheel and Willards to establish a locally owned distribution centre for tyres, rims and batteries that will service Venetia Mine and the wider community.

De Beers is currently investing over $2 billion in converting the Venetia open pit mine in South Africa into an underground operation. Extending production at the site to 2043, with the potential to deliver an estimated 96 Mct, the project is the biggest capital investment in South Africa in the company’s history – one that promises to secure strong profits while maximising employee safety.

By 2021, the diamond-bearing ore at the current Venetia mine is expected to be depleted. In order to extend the life of the mine, in 2007 De Beers and Anglo American took the decision to construct a new underground mine beneath the open pit.

The project team is currently developing the decline from the surface to a depth of 900 m and sinking two vertical shafts to a depth in excess of 1,000 m, and is on track for production to commence in 2021.

“The development of the underground mine at Venetia is a massive financial commitment in our operational capabilities, and a major investment in the safety of our people,” says Head of Venetia Underground Project Kevin Botha. “It is a huge undertaking, and while we’ll need to bring in certain specialists skills from both Canada and Australia, we’ll be recruiting locally to meet the bulk of our labour requirements. We’re expecting to have more than 1,000 people from the surrounding Limpopo region employed on the project.”