The Luele deposit could help Angola double its annual production FILE PHOTO: Miner carries bags filled with excess earth to clear the concession and expose the diamond-rich layers near an Angolan village. © Olivier Polet / Corbis via Getty Images
Angola has officially opened its new Luele diamond mine, the biggest in the country and one of the world’s largest by estimated resources. The deposit is likely to double the country’s annual production.
The 600-meter-deep deposit is in the northeastern Lunda Sul Province, and is expected to yield 628 million carats of diamonds over a projected 60-year lifetime.
Angolan President Joao Lourenco and minister of mineral resources, oil and gas, Diamantino Azevedo, attended a ceremony on Monday to mark the start of operations by the Luele Mining Company.
“The production of this mine will contribute to a significant increase in diamond production in Angola,” Azevedo was quoted as saying.
Experts have cautioned, however, that the Central African country is commencing its $600 million project at an inopportune time. Global demand for diamonds has been hit by high interest rates in the US, home to 55% of world demand, as well as by weak post-pandemic recovery and competition from lab-grown gems.
“You can’t delay opening a mine, but I think it’s opening at a terrible time for diamonds,” said Richard Chetwode, a diamond industry consultant.
Demand for rough diamonds has been muted in recent months. India, where 90% of the world’s rough gems are cut and polished, has asked global miners to halt selling diamonds in order to manage the backlog of stocks.
However, it’s believed that the Luele project could provide additional budget revenues to inflation-hit Angola and attract more investment in the country.
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