De Beers Selects Contractor for Venetia Mine Transformation
De Beers has chosen Murray & Roberts Cementation (M&R) as its contractor of choice in the transformation of its Venetia mine in South Africa, awarding the $245 million contract to convert the open pit diamond mine into an underground operation.
According to M&R group CEO Henry Laas: "This is a flagship project for Murray & Roberts and our local project team has been complimented with project management and operational capacity from our cementation mining companies in Australia and Canada, demonstrating the breadth of capability and experience available in our group.”
The contract with Murray & Roberts includes constructing an entire underground mine, including sinking, equipping and commissioning of a decline shaft and two vertical shafts. It also includes building a horizontal tunnel, loading levels, associated ventilation and ground and water handling infrastructure.
The project is expected to extend the life of the mine until 2042.
“The more advanced Canadian shaft sinking methodology will be utilized for sinking the vertical shafts and Cementation Canada, who is recognized as leaders in applying this methodology, will be providing specialist training of the shaft sinking crews,” says Laas.
"The Canadian shaft-sinking model is designed for all activities in the shaft-sinking production cycle to be undertaken in-line. Although good sinking rates are possible with this methodology, the primary drive in the transition to this methodology is improved safety, as no concurrent shaft sinking activities are required."
The Venetia mine is located in the northeast providence of South Africa. The mine contributes to nearly 40 percent of the country’s annual production, making it the largest producer of diamonds in South Africa.
Gerald Group resolves iron ore dispute with Sierra Leone
Gerald Group, the US commodity trader, will pay Sierra Leone $20mn and cede a 10% stake in an iron ore project as part of the resolution to a nearly two-year dispute that led to the shutdown of production, the two sides revealed.
Gerald's wholly-owned subsidiary SL Mining filed for arbitration in August 2019 over a royalty payment dispute and suspended the Marampa mine the following month. Sierra Leone's government responded by cancelling its mining licence.
As part of the agreement signed on Friday, Sierra Leone will take a non-dilutable 10% stake in a new company that will replace SL Mining and resume operations at Marampa by June 1, Gerald said in a statement.
Gerald will make two $10mn payments this year and will have the immediate right to ship its current stockpile of about 707,000 tonnes of iron ore, it said.
Both sides will withdraw their legal claims before the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) and International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID), the statement added.
Gerald’s chairman and CEO Craig Dean commented: "I am delighted that we have been able to resolve our differences and have a fresh start and new beginning with the government of Sierra Leone."
Sierra Leone's Mines Minister Timothy Kabba told a news conference on Tuesday that the agreement was a milestone for the country.
"Whatever the pain we may have borne or dreaded throughout these two years ... this outcome justifies our action," he said.
Gerald estimates that Marampa holds about 1 billion tonnes of iron ore with a potential lifespan of 30 years.
Back in 2019, Dean spoke with Mining about the development of Marampa and commented: "SL Mining offers a substantial opportunity for Gerald Group as our Marampa mine in Sierra Leone is producing two million tonnes per annum of high grade iron ore in the first phase of development, with expansion possibilities of greater than six million tonnes per annum of high-grade iron ore during its operational life. If you analyse the iron ore market it has transformed, even from a couple of years ago when prices were very low. Now prices have stabilised we’re in a favourable position with our first shipments leaving for China.
"Our goal is to make ‘Marampa Blue’ an internationally recognised premium grade iron ore brand. We intend to expand the delivery of high-grade 65% iron ore concentrate to markets in Europe and Africa.”