The De Beers Group of companies plans to invest ZAR20bn ($2bn) to build a new underground diamond mine underneath the existing Venetia Mine in Limpopo Province, South Africa.
The underground mine will extend the life of the existing Venetia open pit until 2042 to become the nation's largest diamond mine.
De Beers, a member of the Anglo American group, announced the investment having secured the necessary regulatory clearances.
Last year, the Venetia Mine underground project received approval from both the De Beers and Anglo American Boards and later the environmental authorisation.
De Beers Group CEO Philippe Mellier noted that this investment allows the company to ensure long-term supply for its Sightholders, particularly in South Africa.
"Our Sightholders have significant investments in the local cutting industry and this new underground mine will provide a large and predictable supply of rough diamonds for decades to come," Mellier added.
Over the next nine years, De Beers will undertake development of the underground mine while open pit mining operations continue.
The company will employ domestic workers and source the bulk of equipment and services in South Africa.
De Beers Consolidated Mines (DBCM) chairman Barend Petersen said, "We see this significant capital investment as another concrete example of our commitment to the South African mining industry, an industry on which the South African economy was built following the discovery of diamonds in 1866."
Production from the underground operations is expected to begin in 2021 with a capacity of 96 million carats during the life of the mine.
DBCM CEO Phillip Barton stated, "Venetia will play a major role in the future of De Beers and we have therefore been preparing for years to meet tight deadlines and high standards so that Venetia Underground is ready to begin producing South African diamonds by 2021."
Image: De Beers will expand the Venetia mine with new underground operations. Photo: De Beers UK Limited.