De Beers Group has announced the delivery of the first production of diamonds from underground operations at its Venetia mine in South Africa.

Located in the Northern Transvaal, 32km south of the Limpopo River, the Venetia diamond mine ended its open pit mining operations in December 2022 following 30 years of production from the Tier 1 asset.

De Beers committed an investment of $2.3bn for the Venetia mine underground expansion in 2012.

Currently, the overall construction of the South African underground mine is 70% complete, with construction and production ramp-up scheduled to continue over the next few years, said the diamond mining company.

The Venetia mine’s transition to underground mining is expected to extend the life of the mine to the mid-2040s and provide a probable 88 million carats.

According to De Beers, the underground operation, which is highly mechanised, will deliver up to seven million tonnes of kimberlite ore annually to produce nearly four million carats of diamonds per year.

De Beers Group managed operations managing director Moses Madondo said: “The investment in taking the world class Venetia Mine underground enhances De Beers Group’s global production for the long term and is an indication of our commitment to South Africa.

“Our incredible team of employees and contracting partners have pulled together fantastically to achieve this major milestone of first production from the underground operation.”

Currently, the Venetia underground project has a workforce of 4,300 people who are mostly from the host communities of Musina and Blouberg municipalities.

In April 2022, De Beers signed two mineral investment contracts (MICs) with the Angola government for licence areas in the northeast part of the country.