First listed on the AIM in 1997, with a market capitalisation of £10 million, Petra Diamonds has since grown into a leading independent diamond mining group and an important supplier of rough diamonds to the international market.
A year after its listing Petra made significant new kimberlite discoveries in Angola, before later identifying a sizeable kimberlite field in the country at Alto Cuilo. As a result of its rapid success the company entered into a joint venture in 2004 with BHP Billiton to continue the exploration of its Angolan projects.
In the years that followed Petra would go on to merge with ASX-quoted Crown Diamonds, operators of three producing diamond mines, and would acquire assets including the Koffiefontein mine and the Kimberley Underground mine in South Africa, as well as the Williamson mine in Tanzania. In 2013, the company’s production has increased to 2.7 million carats.
In acquiring a total of five of the world’s most important diamond mines Petra has compiled for itself a major diamond resource of more than 300 million carats. With this base behind it the company has set out a transparent growth plan that is expected to see production rising from its current levels to approximately five million carats by the end of the 2019 financial year.
Everything that the company has achieved to date has been with the aim of becoming a diamond mining group of global significance. Through its strong and responsible leadership, Petra is investing in the expansion and optimisation of its world-class assets in order to deliver significantly increased production in the years to come. Underpinning Petra’s strategy is a focus on safety and sustainability, thereby driving value for all stakeholders.
Petra operates an integrated and transparent business, with commitment to its values being present at every step of the production cycle. At the forefront of said cycle is the company’s exploration programme, which is presently focused in Botswana, where modern exploration techniques offer the potential to make new discoveries in previously explored areas. Meanwhile, from a mining and development perspective Petra operates both underground and open-pit operations in South Africa and Tanzania, with expansion plans in plans for each of its core assets.
Following the processing phase, where ore material is disaggregated to extract the rough diamonds, the cycle moves into the sorting process where, once cleaned and acidized, the rough diamonds are sorted by in-house experts who assign them to parcels according to their shape, size, clarity and colour. Last but not least, Petra’s internal marketing team sells the rough diamond parcels by competitive tender in the key markets of Johannesburg and Antwerp, Belgium.
Over the years the company has invested significant capital in order to extend the lives of its mines. Such an approach has helped reaffirm the fact that it is a business very much focused on value as opposed to volume production, with Petra going to great efforts to meticulously plan its mining and processing operations to capture a mine’s optimal rough diamond profile.
Petra is committed to the responsible development of its assets and as such corporate social responsibility is integral to the way that the company structures and operates its mining, development and exploration projects.
In its own words, Petra strives to make a lasting contribution to the “triple bottom line” of people, profit and planet. This involves enhancing the local environment to the benefit of employees and communities, and is achieved through various initiatives that aim to stimulate local socio-economic development, as well as by upholding high standards of environmental stewardship.
As well as endeavouring to create a zero harm environment for its employees to work in, the company also works to ensure that these same men and women are empowered and accountable for their own actions, something it believes encourages them to work to the very best of their abilities at all times. Furthermore, Petra has tried to foster a culture in which innovation and creativity in the workplace is encouraged and rewarded. The company believes that no-one knows its operations better than its own employees and accordingly it looks to leverage its internal skills-base wherever possible.
When it comes to its end product, Petra believes in the responsible mining and sale of its diamonds, and will only operate in countries which are members of the Kimberley Process. As a legitimate diamond miner operating in South Africa, Tanzania and Botswana, 100 percent of Petra's production is fully traceable and conflict-free.
As is the case with any forward thinking business, Petra is always looking to generate efficiencies across its operations and has applied a “back-to-basics” approach designed to review and assess areas for improvement at all times. Key focus areas at present include power and water usage, security and the effective use of labour. All of this is conducted in the knowledge that using past experience to improve future performance is integral to the company’s long-term success.
Written by Will Daynes, research by Robert Hodgson and Candice Nice