De Beers to defend SAfrica mine waste rights in court

15 08 2010

Nov 29 (Reuters) – De Beers, the world’s biggest diamond producer, said on Thursday it plans to defend in court its right to ownership of tailings dumps near a mine where the first diamond was found in South Africa in 1870.

De Beers, which is 45 percent owned by Anglo American Plc (AAL.L), said it is challenging a government permit granted to another company to explore for minerals in tailings dumps, or mine waste, near the Jagersfontein Mine.

“De Beers, is opposing the issuing of a prospecting right to another company to prospect on De Beers owned tailings dumps near the Jagersfontein Mine,” the company said in a statement.

De Beers spokesman Tom Tweedy said the case would be hear on Monday in the Bloemfontein High Court, where the company would take on the Department of Minerals and Energy.

Tweedy declined to give a value for the dumps.

South Africa’s Business Day had reported that the dumps, located in the Free state Province, may contain 60 billion rand ($8.70 billion) of gems.

Tweedy declined to comment on the amount.

Experts said some tailings dumps are valuable and could contain minerals that were not initially extracted, and can be better processed using modern technology.