Now Oppenheimer properties edge out of De Beers’ Diamond Route – by Martin Creamer (MiningWeekly.com – October 20, 2015)

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JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) – The Oppenheimer family, which three years ago sold out of diamond company De Beers, announced on Tuesday that it was delinking the properties of E Oppenheimer & Son from the Diamond Route, which takes in the 250 000 ha of cross-regional land that originally kept potential diamond thieves far away from diamond diggings, but which is today geared to conservation and ecotourism, incorporating new and largely undiscovered natural wonders, as well as historical and cultural elements.

In an opening address to the sixth Diamond Route research conference in Johannesburg, Nicky Oppenheimer, who launched the initiative at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in 2002 while chairperson of De Beers, said that long and hard thought had been put into separating “and it seems to me that this is the right time for the Oppenheimer properties to separate themselves from the Diamond Route”.

Oppenheimer emphasised that the decision was not being taken with any sense of conflict or anger but was the result of the “inevitable drifting apart that takes place when entities are no longer rubbing shoulders, joined at the hip”.

“That’s the way life goes and so I believe it is the right time to separate,” said the grandson of Sir Ernest Oppenheimer – who founded Anglo American, which now controls De Beers, 98 years ago – and the son of Harry Oppenheimer, who formerly chaired De Beers, which was founded by Cecil John Rhodes in 1888.

The Diamond Route, which takes in land surrounding diamond mines, became the biodiversity conservation custodian under De Beers, E Oppenheimer & Son, De Beers Consolidated Mines’ black economic-empowerment partner, Ponahalo Investments and more recently Debswana.

The route links eight sites across northern South Africa, stretching from Namaqualand on the West Coast, to Kimberley’s Benfontein, Rooipoort and Dronfield, then north to Tswalu in the Kalahari, through Brenthurst Gardens in Johannesburg, eastwards to Ezemvelo nature reserve, northwards to Venetia, in Limpopo, the reserve around De Beers’ rich Venetia diamond mine, and right up to the edge of the Makgadikgadi Pans in Botswana with the Orapa Game Park.

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