Diamond miner De Beers, owned by Anglo American (LSE:AAL), plans to shut down four mines in Namibia by 2022, a union official said on Tuesday (October 24).
The mines are operated by Namdeb Holdings, a 50/50 joint venture between the Namibian government and De Beers, the world’s largest rough diamond producer by value.
According to the Namibian Sun newspaper, Mineworkers Union of Namibia Oranjemund branch chairperson Mbidhi Shavuka said that the union would talk to Namdeb to keep workers employed for as long as possible.
“We also understand that it is the nature of the resource; diamonds are finite,” he said.
The mines affected are Elizabeth Bay Mine, which will be shut down at the end of 2018, Daberas at the end of 2019, Sendelingsdrift in 2020 and the main one, Southern Coastal, in 2022, Shavuka said.
Namdeb’s spokesperson, Pauline Thomas, declined comment when contacted by Reuters. Anglo American spokesmen in London were not immediately available to comment.
Diamonds are an essential part of Namibia’s economy as they generate a 20 percent of its foreign export earnings.
Rough diamond output from Namdeb, which was established in 1994, has increased 15 percent year-to-date to 1,317,000 carats. That’s a result of higher mining rates from Debmarine Namibia’s Mafuta vessel, a ship off the coast of the country.
In fact, Namibia has the richest known marine diamond deposits in the world, estimated at more than 80 million carats.
De Beers’ Namibian unit sold its diamonds for $528 a carat last year, much higher than the $187 average for the whole company’s stones and accounting for about 13 percent of total earnings.
Earlier this week, Anglo American reported an increase in De Beers’ sales volume and production in the third quarter of the year. The company revised its full-year production forecast upward to approximately 33 million carats, representing a 21 percent increase versus 2016.
On Wednesday (October 25), shares of Anglo American closed down 2.22 percent in London at £1,419.63. The company’s share price has been surging since January, up 21.68 percent year-to-date.
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Securities Disclosure: I, Priscila Barrera, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.