De Beers Awards Contract For Development Of Venetia Underground Mine

South Africa’s Murray & Roberts Cementation has won a $245 million (2.6 billion rand) contract to develop an underground mine beneath De Beers’ open pit Venetia mine in Limpopo, IDEX Online reported.

The contract involves the development of the entire underground mine and will include the sinking, equipping and commissioning of a decline shaft and two vertical shafts, Murray & Roberts said.

In addition there will be horizontal tunnel development to give access to and the establishment of loading levels, as well as related ventilation, ground and water handling infrastructure.

The Venetia mine is the largest diamond operation in South Africa, accounting for 40 percent of the country's annual output, and about 10 percent of De Beers production of 31 million carats last year.

De Beers announced last year that it would be investing $2 billion in order to extend the life of Venetia beyond 2040 and replace the open pit.

With underground production expected to commence in 2021, over its life, the mine will treat approximately 130 million tonnes of ore, containing an estimated 96 million carats. The mine will also support over 8,000 jobs directly, and a further 5,000 through the supply chain.