- Angola's diamond-mining sector was once the major financing source of the country's brutal civil war. Now, the increasingly monitored sector is proving an asset for businesses and national development. Only the Catoca Diamond Mining Project is now said to generate US$ 11 billion for its owners over the next 40 years.
Manuel Ganga Junior, Director General of the Catoca Mining Group announced last week that the company expects the Catoca kimberlite pipe to generate a total of US$ 11 billion over the next 40 years, according to reports from the Angolan government's Agência Nacional para o Investimento Privado (ANIP).
New geological studies at Catoca project that the kimberlite pipe contains approximately 190 million karats of diamonds. Located in Lunda Sul province, the kimberlite has a surface area of 100 square meters and is 900 meters in diameter, according to ANIP.
In its eighth year of production, the kimberlite pipe has already generated US$ 254 million dollars in revenues, Mr Ganga said. The company expects to top the US$ 400 million mark by 2006. Of this, the Catoca Mining Group expects that US$ 100 million will be profit.
As part of its concession, the Catoca Mining Group has invested in a number of social projects in the area, ANIP reports. The group has built a residential housing complex, as well as a primary school for 303 students. "The company also provides meals for the students on an ongoing basis," ANIP says.
According to ANIP, the Catoca Mining group further had renovated the provincial hospital, built a potable water supply system for the Catoca surrounding areas that benefits some 6,000 residents and sponsors sporting events.
The Catoca Mining Group is partnership comprised of Endiama, the Angolan State diamond mining company, Brazil's Odebrecht Mining Services, and Israeli and Russian interests. The company started producing diamonds at Catoca in 1996, as the civil war still was ravaging Angola.
During that epoch, diamond mining in Angola had a poor reputation as the large revenues from the industry were used by the warring parties to finance the country's long and bloody civil war. A worldwide network existed to capitalise on Angola's conflict diamonds. This was one of the direct reasons behind the introduction of global diamond certification in the 1990s.
Meanwhile, the Angolan government has started close monitoring of its formerly loosely controlled diamond-mining sector. The Corpo de Seguranca de Diamantes (CSD) - a national security agency established a few years ago - is now monitoring the storing, classification and transportation of diamonds in Angola. The CSD is the control of Angola's intelligence services.
Angola is the world's fourth-largest diamond producer after Botswana, Russia and South Africa. In 2003, Angola sold an estimated 5.6 million carats worth of diamonds, at a value of about US$ 1 billion. In addition to the state-owned Endiama and a large number of foreign mining companies, an estimated 350,000 artisanal miners are also involved in the national diamond production.
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