Emerging markets trade and investment group Gemcorp and Endiama Mining, a subsidiary of Angola’s State-owned diamond company Endiama, have entered into a joint venture (JV) agreement to develop the Mulepe diamond deposit in Lunda Norte, Angola.
The Mulepe site, which contains significant kimberlite and alluvial deposits, represents a key strategic project that aims to provide important employment opportunities and unlock value in a remote region of the country.
To ensure rapid development of the project, a pilot mining programme will be set up sometime this year to enable initial operations and diamond exports.
The pilot operations will enable the JV partners to improve their understanding of the mining operations, the type and quality of diamonds present within the concession, the capabilities of local third-party service providers and value generation potential through diamond sales.
Following the pilot programme, the JV partners will then proceed with the development and expansion of operations to fully realise the potential of the hard-rock kimberlite deposits at Mulepe.
At full production, the project is expected to process about three-million tonnes a year of kimberlite.
Capital investment of about $150-million will be needed for the project's development.
As the majority shareholder, developer and operator, Gemcorp will fund the pilot programme and oversee the operations of the project.
Endiama Mining, which has significant institutional knowledge of the site and experience in the Lunda-Norte region, will enable the partnership to develop the project in a timely, cost effective and safe manner.
In the pilot stage, Gemcorp will build a team of experienced professionals and it expects to employ about 140 workers, the majority coming from the local community. Employment opportunities will span management, mining, plant and camp operations.
The Mulepe project is Gemcorp’s first investment in diamond mining in sub-Saharan Africa. With a strong record of successfully managing large-scale projects in Angola, including the Cabinda Oil Refinery, Gemcorp states that it is well positioned to manage and deliver this project together with Endiama Mining.
Gemcorp CEO Atanas Bostandjiev says the company is excited to continue playing a role in helping Angola capture the full value of its natural resources, while supporting the development of local communities.
“Angola is a country full of potential, and this partnership is yet another example of our belief in Angola’s economic future.”
Endiama Mining president Ganga Júnior says Endiama believes the partnership constitutes another important step towards diversifying the Angolan diamond sector across the entire value chain.
“. . . it is a project that will certainly contribute to the development of Angola, representing a strong sign of the opening of the sector to foreign direct investment.”