DE Beers has extended its involvement in Angola’s diamond sector, saying on Tuesday it had signed an agreement with the southern African country aimed at “increasing diamond production” from previously explored deposits.
A memorandum of understanding, signed at the Mining Indaba conference this week, is with the government diamond company Endiama, the state diamond trader Sodiam, and Angola’s National Mineral Resource Agency.
It follows two 35-year contracts to explore for diamonds – Mineral Investment Contracts – signed with Angola in 2022 which represented a return to Angola for De Beers following a 20-year absence. De Beers said today the memorandum was also aimed at growing alluvial diamond mining as well as social development projects in the country.
De Beers CEO Al Cook said Angola was a prime example of how economic reform led to investment. “Returning to Angola in 2022 was a significant step for De Beers and we see a bright future in the country,” he said in a statement.
De Beers’ return to Angola represented an important breakthrough for the country following the regulatory and policy changes made by the government of President Joao Lourenco who replaced former president Jose Eduardo dos Santos in 2017. Angola is arguably the most prospective country in the world for major new diamond deposits, but De Beers and most other diamond explorers left the country in the early 2000s.
Rio Tinto announced it was returning to Angola in 2019 specifying it would hold a 75% stake in the first phase of any mine developed with Endiama holding 25% but that the contract left open the possibility of Endiama increasing its holding to 49%.
In terms of the memorandum, De Beers and Angola intend to review “a number of kimberlite deposits to reassess their economic attractiveness” using De Beers technologies. The group didn’t give additional details on where the desposits were located but its Mineral Investment Contracts were for prospects in the north-east of the country.
Ganga Júnior, CEO, ENDIAMA, said: “This is a strategic partnership with the objective of increasing diamond production in Angola to contribute towards the socio-economic development of our country.”