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By Shrikesh Laxmidas
LUANDA, April 10 (Reuters) - Angola, the world’s fourth-largest diamond producer by value, will approve a new concession to De Beers to explore for diamonds, Geology and Mines Minister Francisco Queiroz told the Reuters Africa Summit on Thursday.
London-based De Beers, majority-owned by global miner Anglo American, previously explored in Angola between 2005 and 2012 but relinquished its concession.
“The company made that big investment in prospecting, and unfortunately it didn’t have great results, but it is making a new bid, and another investment will be approved,” Queiroz told the Reuters Africa Summit.
De Beers Chief Executive Philippe Mellier told Reuters last month that the company hoped talks with the Angolan government would be successful, with a view to starting early stage work later this year.
“De Beers has been negotiating with (state-owned diamond firm) Endiama, and it is welcome in Angola as it has been in the country for a long time, even before independence from Portugal in 1975,” Queiroz said.
The government of Angola, the world’s sixth-largest diamond producer by volume, is keen to boost a sector in which few companies are currently drilling.
Russia’s Alrosa, De Beers’ main competitor, already operates the Catoca mine in Angola, the world’s fourth-largest, in a joint venture with Endiama.
Queiroz said a new joint venture between Endiama and Alrosa, announced in February, to explore in eastern Angola could produce huge results, with the Russian firm set to spend $15.5 million to acquire the area and over $150 million if deposits are found.
“De Beers and Alrosa could help contribute to a boom in Angolan production in a short space of time.” (Reporting by Shrikesh Laxmidas; editing by Jane Baird)