JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) – The model launched last year by De Beers for the development of young historically disadvantaged South Africans (HDSAs) as diamond beneficiators is proving highly successful, De Beers Senior VP Sightholder Sales South Africa Mpumi Zikalala said on Tuesday.
Speaking to Mining Weekly Online on the sidelines of the eighth Oppenheimer-De Beers Group Research Conference at the iconic company’s headquarters in Ormonde, Zikalala said the young HDSAs forming part of the programme had “amazed” the organisation with their good performance. (Also watch attached Creamer Media video).
As the opener of the packed conference attended by Nicky Oppenheimer and his wife Strilli, Zikalala was introduced as the “soon-to-be” deputy CEO of De Beers Consolidated Mines (DBCM), which follows her appointments as the first female GM of Kimberley Mine in 2007 and as GM of Voorspoed Mine in 2010, after joining De Beers as a bursar 21 years ago.
“We’ve just come out of our sight eight last week and guess what, the young HDSA beneficiators were there, looking at goods and purchasing goods, similar to the rest of our clients in South Africa.
“And, as we've always said, this model is critical for us as it’s not just a De Beers thing. It requires all the industry players in South Africa to come together and work towards developing small enterprises,” Zikalala commented to Mining Weekly Online.
The young HDSAs are now licensed diamond cutters and polishers after having been taken through an holistic developmental model that includes the supply of rough diamonds from De Beers.
“I’ve personally, together with my team, visited some of the areas where they cut and polish their goods. We’ve just come back from the Hong Kong Show with some of them. They were there, they had stands, they were displaying the product that they had cut and polished, and frankly they are experiencing the industry as would any other player,” she said.
The De Beers aggregation and sales model allows them to benefit from mixing of like-for-like diamonds from South Africa, Botswana, Namibia and Canada, which provides them with consistency.
"We’re highly excited and look forward to the growth of those young beneficiators,” Zikalala said.
Asked about the negative impact of the closure of Voorspoed mine and the inability of DBCM to replace those diamonds given that the Department of Mineral Resources has failed to approve 54 exploration licence applications submitted in the last two years, Zikalala reiterated that exploration is critical and that De Beers geologists point out that South Africa remains one of the most prospective areas for diamond discovery in the world.
“When we look at our future from a supply-demand curve perspective, we definitely think that demand will exceed supply. So, we do need diamonds that would come in to fill that gap.
“Voorspoed does have a slightly different profile of goods from Venetia and that’s where we continually look at finding new mines to fill that gap. Aggregation, however, does help because what it does do is that even if Venetia is mining in different areas, we would still have our ultimate international mixture that will fulfil their demand for specific goods that our beneficiators would have asked for,” the Anglo American group senior VP told Mining Weekly Online in the exclusive interview.
The past seven years have seen the Oppenheimer-De Beers Research Conference yield an outstanding variety of quality, with leading researchers representing major universities and institutions in South Africa, Europe, Britain, America and Eastern Europe.
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The paper delievered on the impact on birds by first eight wind farms of South Africa's Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Programme is considered the leading work on the subject.