Friday, March 23, 2018
Johan Dippenaar

Johan Dippenaar

Petra Diamonds

JOHAN Dippenaar takes refuge in the catch-all word “disappointing” to describe Petra’s last financial year. Others would call it extremely stressful. 2017 was the year of peak capital spending for Petra as it completed life extension projects at Cullinan and Finsch mines. Apart from a slower-than-expected ramp-up of the projects and the seizure of valuable diamonds at its Williamson mine in Tanzania by a government keen to enforce a new regulatory regime, Petra has also had to deal with wage-related labour stoppages in South Africa. The company has warned it is likely to breach its debt covenants. That’s apart from the increasing aversion that UK shareholders are feeling towards the political and regulatory uncertainty in South Africa. Petra’s shares were down 60% at the same time as the other UK-listed miners were up 18%. Petra’s board is not one to take this lightly: Dippenaar’s total remuneration dropped 43% to £545,687 in the year to June. But as the new mines come on stream the quality of production will improve – with higher-grade underground ore replacing the tailings that have been contributing about 30% of Petra’s output – and cash will start to flow. This may be a little late for Dippenaar to take advantage of De Beers’ decision to sell Voorspoed, but there’s little doubt Petra would have muscled in on the bidding a few years ago.


He was CEO and a co-founder of ASX-listed Crown Diamonds, which had little in the way of growth prospects when it merged with Adonis Pouroulis’s Petra Diamonds – the owner of Angolan prospects – in 2005. Dippenaar, a chartered accountant, has made a number of acquisitions of former De Beers mines to build Petra into one of the world’s leading junior diamond miners.