(Reuters) – Global diamond giant De Beers on Tuesday reported its first production from its new $2.3 billion underground operations at Venetia mine in South Africa.
De Beers, a unit of Anglo American Plc, stopped its 30-year open pit mining operations at Venetia in December 2022 to transition to the underground mining project it started developing ten years ago.
The highly mechanised underground operation is currently 70% complete and will produce around 4 million carats of diamonds annually, De Beers said in a statement. De Beers produced 34.6 million carats in 2022 and its 2023 output is forecast in the 30 million to 33 million carat range.
“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,” Moses Madondo, managing director of De Beers Group Managed Operations said.
Construction and production ramp up at Venetia will continue over the next years, extending the mine’s life to at least 2045, De Beers said.
(This story has been corrected after De Beers revised the project cost to $2.3 billion and forecast output to 4 million carats)
(Reporting by Nelson Banya; Editing by Kirsten Donovan)