De Beers is currently investing over US$2 billion in converting the Venetia open pit mine in South Africa into an underground operation.
Looking up from within the Venetia Underground shaft.
Extending production at the site to 2043, with the potential to deliver an estimated 96 million carats, the project is the biggest capital investment in South Africa in the company’s history – one that promises to secure strong profits while maximising employee safety.
By 2021, the diamond-bearing ore at the current Venetia Mine is expected to be depleted. In order to extend the life of the mine, in 2007 De Beers and Anglo American took the decision to construct a new underground mine beneath the open pit.
The project team is currently developing the decline from the surface to a depth of 900 metres and sinking two vertical shafts to a depth in excess of 1,000 metres, and is on track for production to commence in 2021.
“The development of the underground mine at Venetia is a massive financial commitment in our operational capabilities, and a major investment in the safety of our people,” says Head of Venetia Underground Project Kevin Botha.
“It is a huge undertaking, and while we’ll need to bring in certain specialists skills from both Canada and Australia, we’ll be recruiting locally to meet the bulk of our labour requirements. We’re expecting to have more than 1,000 people from the surrounding Limpopo region employed on the project.”
In this way, the Venetia Mine will cement the long-standing relationship between De Beers and the people of South Africa. As Philippe Mellier, De Beers CEO, comments: “We’re proud to have been part of the country’s past – and, through this, our largest ever investment, we’re ensuring that we’ll be part of its future too.
 The current mining rights expire in 2038; Venetia mine will apply to extend the mining rights at the appropriate time in the future. Scheduled Inferred Resources constitute 28% (26.3Mct) of the estimated carats. Not all Inferred Resources may be upgraded to Ore Reserves, even after additional drilling. The numbers given are scheduled tonnes and carats as per the 2013 Life-of-Mine plan.