Cleaver calls time on De Beers executive role as group unveils Al Cook as new CEO

Bruce Cleaver, CEO, De Beers

BRUCE Cleaver, CEO of De Beers, is to step down from the diamond group in 2023 and will be replaced by Al Cook, an outside appointment.

Cook is currently vice president of exploration international production for Equinor ASA, a Norway-based global energy company.

Cleaver, who has been CEO of De Beers for six years, will become the group’s non-executive chairman. Cleaver was previously considered a contender to replace the former Anglo CEO, Mark Cutifani.

Duncan Wanblad, who took over from Cutifani as CEO of Anglo in April said today Cook’s broad base of skills won him the position. Wanblad described De Beers has “a global business that spans much of the spectrum from exploration and mining to Bond Street and Madison Avenue.”

Cleaver’s resignation may not be the last of senior management changes at Anglo following Cutifani’s retirement. The group’s CFO, Stephen Pearce is 58 while Anglo’s technical director, Tony O’Neill is 64, a year older than Cutifani.

Asked about management turnover in the wake of his retirement, Cutifani told Miningmx in April that Cleaver had “got another CEO role in him at the moment”. He added: “Tony and Stephen will be a bit different, but Duncan has to refresh the organisation anyway. So it will come, but we have set a new set of foundations”.

Cleaver, who is 56, said: “I am proud of all that we have achieved together during this period, despite the major challenges we have faced along the way”.

De Beers underwent some important changes under Cleaver’s management including the further modernisation of its sightholder selection process and a return to Angola after a 20 year absence where it plans to exploration for diamonds.

More recently, De Beers unveiled plans to explore for offshore diamonds near Greenland while the post-Covid world and disruption to Russian producer Alrosa’s marketing efforts has created an uncertain diamond sector.

One of the major issues for De Beers that may befall Cook early in his diamond career will be the renewal of a key marketing agreement with the Botswana government which is a joint venture partner in Debswana.

Said Cook on his appointment: “I deeply recognise the importance of De Beers’ approach to responsible mining – most notably in Botswana, Namibia and South Africa. It is our responsibility to work with the industry on continuing to fulfil the true promise of diamonds.”

De Beers, which is 85% owned by Anglo American, comprised 11% of total interim underlying ebitda for the UK listed miner for the first six months of its 2022 financial year. This was following a 55% improvement in average diamond prices to to $213 per carat.

De Beers increased its forecast for full year production to between 32 and 34 million carats which compares to previous guidance of 30 to 33 million carats. The forecast was subject to “further Covid-19 related disruptions”.

Unit cost guidance was unchanged at $65/carat.

Writing on the diamond market, Bloomberg News said that supplies of rough diamonds produced by Russia’s Alrosa were making their way into the general market reducing any potential price premium their absence may have attracted.