The De Beers Group announced in mid-February 2013 that it will invest approximately R20 billion ($2 billion) to build a new underground mine beneath the currently operating open-pit Venetia diamond mine in Limpopo province, South Africa. When completed, the underground mine will extend the life of Venetia until 2042 and replace the open pit as South Africa’s largest diamond mine. The announcement followed the receipt of the final outstanding regulatory clearances earlier in February.

The development and build phase of the Venetia underground mine is expected to create 1,000 jobs over the next nine years while open-pit mining operations continue. Underground operations will begin production in 2021, yielding approximately 96 million carats during the life of the mine and securing more than 3,000 jobs. The project will employ semi-skilled and skilled workers drawn primarily from the region and trained for the project.

The bulk of all equipment and services will be sourced in South Africa.

Philippe Mellier, CEO of the De Beers Group, said, “Our investment in Venetia enables us to provide greater certainty around long-term supply for our sightholders, particularly those with manufacturing operations in South Africa. Our sightholders have significant investments in the local cutting industry, and this new underground mine will provide a large and predictable supply of rough diamonds for decades to come.”