Sunday, November 25, 2007

De Beers sells S.African Cullinan Diamond Mine

JOHANNESBURG (AFP) - The world's biggest diamond company De Beers said Thursday it was selling its historic Cullinan Diamond Mine in South Africa, where the largest ever diamond was found.

It said it was selling the mine for one billion rand (147 million US dollars, 99 million euros).

The sale of the mine, based 40 kilometres (24 miles) east of the capital Pretoria, to the Petra Diamonds Cullinan Consortium -- which has a strong black empowerment element -- completes De Beer's review of its mining portfolio in the country.

"This will enable De Beers to best use our capital to invest in exciting growth opportunities and to sustain a strong diamond mining business in South Africa for the future," said Gareth Penny, Managing Director of the De Beers Group.

"In this way De Beers is strengthening its commercial future in South Africa whilst helping to meet the government's aspirations for a diversified, transformed South African diamond industry."

The pan-African diamond mining group, Petra Diamonds is the second largest producer of diamonds in South Africa after De Beers and is partnered in the country by Thembinkosi Mining Investments (Pty) Ltd which "brings together a significant pool of empowerment players."

"This transaction is a transformational deal for Petra and reflects the opportunities DBCM is creating for new players in the diamond industry," said David Noko, managing director of De Beers Consolidated Mines (DBCM)

The Cullinan Diamond Mine, established in 1902, is famous for the world's largest ever rough diamond, The Cullinan Diamond, which was discovered in 1905 and weighed over 3000 carats uncut.

The mine is also the world's only significant producer of rare blue diamonds.

"The Cullinan Diamond Mine is one of the most illustrious diamond mines in South Africa and we are delighted to have concluded this transaction which will ensure a viable and sustainable mining operation for many years to come," said Petra chief executive Johan Dippenaar.

"Over the last 100 years, Cullinan has played an integral part in writing the history of diamonds - giving the world its largest ever gem diamond, the Cullinan diamond, as well as many of the most famous and spectacular diamonds ever seen, including the two largest polished diamonds," he added."

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