Strategy and growth
During 2007, De Beers refocused its exploration activities, conducted a strategic review of mining assets and continued to invest in new mines. The company also restructured its mine portfolio, distribution and marketing activities and established new sales and marketing partnerships with producers in southern Africa.
The review is an essential part of De Beers’ transformation and its business model is now focused on maximising consumer demand for diamonds, and not in maximising its market share. As part of its review, De Beers prioritised future investment in mining opportunities that fit its long term strategy. The sale of Cullinan, Koffiefontein and Kimberley underground mines together with some of the Kimberley tailings operations have been agreed and the merger of the West Coast operations of Alexkor with the Namaqualand Mines into a new, stand-alone diamond mining company has been announced. The Koffiefontein mine in South Africa was sold to Petra Diamonds Limited in July 2007. Petra also reached agreement with De Beers to purchase the Kimberley underground mines in September 2007, with this transaction expected to be concluded in early 2008. The Cullinan mine has also been sold as a going concern to Petra in a BEE consortium for approximately R1 billion.
The sale of Cullinan, consistent with the company’s strategy to operate mines best suited to the future plans of De Beers in South Africa, completes the restructuring of DBCM’s portfolio and will lead to improved returns on capital as new projects are commissioned in 2008.
De Beers is fully committed to implementing agreements with government partners that will lead to greater beneficiation in producer countries. Both NDTC and DTCB were established during 2006 to sort and value local diamond output as well as to perform local sales and marketing activities. The new joint ventures with the respective government partners will work towards the development of sustainable downstream diamond industries in Namibia and Botswana.
DTCB is expected to be fully operational in early 2008 and all 16 of the country’s licence holders have been approved as sightholders, with contracts concluded for the years 2008 to 2011. In total, approximately $360 million of rough diamonds are expected to be sold by DTCB to sightholders in 2008.
NDTC announced its client list consisting of 11 sightholders on 3 October 2007. On 29 October, those companies with operational factories as of 18 July received their first supplies for cutting and polishing in Namibia and the remainder will receive supply from 31 March 2008.
With the establishment of the State Diamond Trader (SDT) in South Africa, De Beers and the Department of Minerals and Energy (DME) of the Republic of South Africa have agreed that De Beers will make its management and technical expertise available to the DME for the next three years to facilitate the start up of the SDT. De Beers, like all other South African diamond producers, will be selling up to 10% of its production to the SDT.
Following a review of the DTCI operations, a decision was taken to maximise downstream effectiveness by establishing two separate divisions. The new De Beers Group Marketing (DBGM) unit will now be responsible for the marketing activity previously undertaken by DTCI, while DTCI will concentrate on purchasing, sorting and selling rough diamonds. Downstream, DBGM continues to drive consumer demand and stimulate growth in the industry through its own marketing initiatives and an increase in advertising programmes by the DTC’s clients, its downstream trade partners.
In exploration, De Beers is concentrating on projects in Angola, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Botswana, South Africa, Namibia, Canada and India. Exploration in the DRC and Angola, in conjunction with partners, is beginning to yield results as projects move from early to advanced stages. Advanced stage evaluation in Botswana has resulted in the potential development of AK06, a kimberlite mine in the Orapa region of Botswana. De Beers is conducting both early and advanced stage exploration activities in Canada focusing on the Slave and Superior craton target areas. In collaboration with Namdeb and DBCM and their associated partners, prioritised early stage exploration is being undertaken in northern Namibia and South Africa, respectively.
Right: Namdeb vessel Ya Toivo mines for diamonds off the coast of Namibia. Today, about half of Namdeb’s production comes from its marine operations