De Beers is reviewing its approach to the development of smaller mining projects as the diamond giant considers its future strategy in a situation where there have been no major diamond discoveries in the past 30 years.
No ‘biggies’ are expected to be found over the next decade or so either despite the intensive exploration efforts by De Beers and other diamond companies – both major and junior.
The most likely country where a major diamond strike could be made is Angola, which is both highly prospective and underexplored, but De Beers no longer operates there having pulled out because of concerns over its likely “security of tenure” to any finds it might make.
A number of small diamond mines have been started up over the past 15 years of which one of the most successful has been the deposit formerly known as the AK6 kimberlite pipe in north-eastern Botswana. The profitable mine, today known as Karowe, has produced a string of large, high-value diamonds, but it is owned and operated by Lucara Diamond Corporation despite the fact that De Beers did much of the work to evaluate the project.
The change in strategy is being driven by De Beers CEO, Bruce Cleaver, who took over from Philippe Mellier in July last year. A lawyer by profession, Cleaver joined De Beers in in 2005 as general counsel and rose rapidly through the ranks, becoming executive head responsible for strategy, business development, corporate affairs and technologies in 2011.