Billionaire Beny Steinmetz is back to mining diamonds. The Koidu mine in Sierra Leone, controlled by the billionaire’s family trust, has started mining again after halting production for almost a year.
It’s the latest step in a recovery for a business that’s spent much of the last few years in deep trouble.
While the mine produces some of most valuable stones in the world, it has faced a series of crises running from too much debt to the Ebola epidemic. In 2015, the mine became part of a fight between Steinmetz’s BSG Resources Ltd. and the government that involved BSGR’s CEO betraying its owners in secretly taped conversations.
In the past year, BSGR has worked to bring the mine back to life. It spent about $50 million to extend the life of the mine by converting it from an open pit to underground operation.
The site can now produce about 400,000 carats a year, and that could be increased to 650,000 carats. Diamonds from the mine sell for an average of about $300 a carat, with only Gem Diamonds Ltd.’s Letseng mine and Lucara Diamond Corp.’s Karowe selling for higher prices.
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