SCORPIO on AMABHUNGANE CENTRE FOR INVEESTIGATIVE JOURNALISM | 13 Dec 2017
“Alexkor is a small operation that in some ways exists to award and manage contracts.
Its shallow ocean concessions (up to 30 meters in depth) are mined by about 60 small-scale marine contractors, who use divers to manhandle large vacuum hoses to suck up the diamond-baring gravel and sand for processing.
The companies bare the costs and risks – and for that they get a 50% share of the diamond revenue.
The more shy bearing onshore excavations are handled by another, much smaller group of contractors, while the deeper ocean excavation is handled by a specialised company, International Mining and Dredging South Africa (IMDSA).
IMDSA is responsible for the major portion of diamond recoveries. In the last financial year 112,047 carats came from deep-sea operations, whereas 50,125 carats were produced from the other concession areas.
The deep ocean mining requires expensive, specialised vessels, and because of the atrocious sea conditions on the Richtersveld coast, sea days can be severely limited. IMDSA keeps about 85% of the diamond revenue.
From 2000 until 2006 Alexkor’s production was sold via the De Beers company Diamdel.”