De Beers Group today signed a historic 5-year wage agreement with the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) following months of negotiations facilitated by the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) with employees in the bargaining unit at the Venetia mine and De Beers Sightholder Sales South Africa.

“We are pleased that we reached a favorable outcome following a very tough negotiation process against the backdrop of challenging market conditions that continue to have an adverse impact on our business and the overall diamond industry,” said Moses Madondo, managing director for De Beers Group Managed Operations. “The agreement provides a measure of certainty to our employees for the next 5 years as we focus on ramping up the underground mine at Venetia, which is set to extend the life of mine to at least 2046.”

Miners will receive an increase of 7% in 2023, and 6% in the subsequent years until April 30, 2028. This takes the minimum basic wage at an entry level excluding allowances for shifts and housing to R17,630 ($954) per month. The agreement also allows for participation in the Employee Share Ownership Plans (ESOPs) and will see De Beers employees in South Africa taking part in Anglo American’s current South African ESOP from 2023 to 2025.

Underground production at the Venetia mine began in July after de Beers completed a $2.3 billion transition from open-pit operations. Located in South Africa’s Limpopo Province, the highly mechanized underground operation is expected to deliver up to 7 million metric tons per year (mt/y) of kimberlite ore to produce roughly 4 million carats of diamonds annually.