Mining giant De Beers announced on Tuesday that a mining tunnel worth $2.2 billion in South Africa has commenced its production of the first diamonds.
In 2012, the multinational company initiated excavation below South Africa’s largest diamond mine, Venetia, with the objective of accessing gems at depths exceeding 1,000 meters (3,250 feet).
Venetia, situated in northeastern South Africa near the borders of Zimbabwe and Botswana, is an open mine that concluded its 30 years of production and closed in December 2022.
The company characterized the initial diamonds as “a key milestone” but refrained from providing additional details at this time.
The underground operation, which currently employs approximately 4,300 individuals, has reached a completion rate of 70 percent, company said.
The facility is projected to yield an annual production of diamonds ranging between 4.5 million and 5.5 million carats, according to estimates.
Moses Madondo, the Managed Operations’ Director at De Beers, said that this investment strengthens the group’s long-term production capacity and serves as a testament to their dedication to South Africa.
“We look forward to seeing this high performing team continue the good work as we ramp up production over the next few years,” he added.