Thursday, 3 December 2015

Diamonds of Angola

The Portuguese arrived around 1475 at the coast of what today is Angola. They played a pivotal role in the Atlantic slave trade: until 1830 well over a million Angolan people were exported as slaves, mainly to Brazil, but also to the Caribbean and North America. Angola’s diamond industry began under Portuguese colonial rule. It is successfully emerging from a long period of difficulty as a result of a civil war that ended in 2002.

The country’s production volume has remained relatively stable at 8 million carats per year since 2006.

Modern diamond mining began around 1912, when gems were discovered in a stream in the Lunda region in the northeast. In 1917 Diamang was granted the concession for diamond mining and prospecting, which it held until independence. Control over the company was obtained by the government in 1977.

In 1979 a general law on mining activities was enacted that gave the state the exclusive right to prospect for and exploit minerals.
Angola has extensive diamond reserves estimated at 180 million carats, mostly in the provinces of Lunda Norte and Lunda Sul in the central and northeastern parts of the country.

More than 700 kimberlites have been located. Most are located along a north east - south west trend that extends into neighbouring DRC.
The Catoca diamond mine is the fourth largest in the world. The mine is owned by a consortium of international mining interests, including Endiama (32.8% ownership), Alrosa (32.8%), Odebrecht of Brazil (16.4%), and the Diamond Finance CY BV Group (16.8%).
In 2012 the mine produced 6.5 million carats. It has estimated reserves of 190 million carats, employs nearly 2,000 Angolans, and is located near Saurimo, in Lunda Sul.
Isabel dos Santos, the billionaire daughter of the Angolan president, is the main beneficiary of the diamond trade in Angola. Isabel dos Santos, popularly known in the world business circles as "Princess", is an Angolan billionaire, investor and the richest woman in Africa.
She is the oldest daughter of Angola's president, Jose Eduardo dos Santos and she debuted on the Forbes 2013 list of the World's Billionaires with a fortune estimated at a minimum of $3 billion. This makes her Angola's first billionaire, 31st richest person in Africa and 736th billionaire in the world.

Forbes magazine recently investigated the partnership set up by Isabel dos Santos for the acquisition of the Swiss jeweller De Grisogono.
Over the last five years, while production remained fairly steady at the Catoca mine, international mining companies abandoned their operations. That trend is now starting to reverse.

Angola is also known for its significant gold and oil reserves.