Angola’s diamond sector expanding with Russian help

2nd February 2018 By: Rebecca Campbell - Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor

Angola’s Sociedade Mineira de Catoca (Catoca Mining Company) is expecting to produce seven-million carats of diamonds this year. This was stated by company GM Sergei Amelin, the Macauhub news agency reported. He was speaking in the city of Saurimo, which is the capital of Lunda Sul province, where the Catoca diamond mine is located. Catoca is Angola’s biggest diamond mine, accounting for 86.3% of national production, in terms of volume, and 60.3% in terms of value. It is also the fourth-biggest diamond producer in the world.

He observed that the mine had produced 7.4-million carats last year. He ascribed the forecast decline in output this year to the company being committed to the commissioning of the Luaxe project. This is scheduled for March. Luaxe has a reported reserve of some 350-million carats in the Luele Kimberlite pipe. The operation is projected to have a life-of-mine of 29 years, cover a surface area of 100 ha and reach a depth of 400 m. Catoca owns 50.5% of Luaxe International Enterprise.

Separately, the executive committee chairperson of Russian diamond giant Alrosa, Sergey Ivanov, met with Angolan President João Lourenço at the World Economic Forum, in Davos, Switzerland. According to the Alrosa press release, they discussed issues concerning Alrosa increasing its stake in Catoca to 41%, from the previous 32.8%, by acquiring half of Brazilian group Odebrecht’s 16.4% share in the mine, the other half going to Angolan State-owned diamond company Endiama, which will also increase its share to 41%. (The remaining 18% belongs to LL International Holding.) In addition, they discussed the development of the Luele pipe through Luaxe. Alrosa directly owns 8% of Luaxe.

“Luele pipe is the largest of all those discovered worldwide over the past 60 years since the discovery of deposits in Yakutia,” highlighted Ivanov in May last year. “As a specialised investor in [the] Luaxe project, Alrosa, who has relevant professional competence, will assume obligations of the new company’s project solutions and technical policy. The total commercial value of the deposit is assessed as over $35-billion.”

The meeting in Davos was the second between Ivanov and Lourenço in three months, the previous one having been in Angola in November. At Davos, Ivanov thanked the President for the steps he was taking to create a more favourable environment for mining in Angola. “Recently, we have seen positive changes related to [the increase] of transparency and improving the investment climate in Angola,” said the chairperson. “I am sure that the efforts being taken by [the] republic’s authorities to attract investments to the economy, will soon bear fruit and will contribute to the launch of new large projects.”

Since 2014, Alrosa and Endiama have also entered into a geological joint venture, which has been carrying out exploration in Angola. (Endiama’s full name, in English, is the National Diamond Prospecting, Mining, Polishing and Marketing Company of Angola.)

Alrosa is responsible for 99% of the rough diamonds produced in Russia and for 27% of global diamond production. Although predominantly State-owned (the stake being divided between national, provincial and municipal governments), it is listed on the Moscow Stock Exchange, with a free float of 33.9739% of its shares.