Africa, home to some of the largest diamond mines in the world, began mining the precious stone in 1866 after it was first discovered in Kimberly, South Africa. On the continent are some of the world’s biggest diamond producing countries with historically important diamonds recorded to have been discovered there. 

Top Five Diamond Mining Countries in Africa

Of the countries where diamonds of gem-quality have been discovered and mined in Africa, the following stand out for their abundant deposit of the precious stones as well as the quality of the stones found there. These African countries include

  • Botswana
  • Angola
  • South Africa
  • Namibia
  • Democratic Republic of Congo

Botswana with its well-established diamond mines is the forerunner on the continent. These mines include Jwaneng mines (owned by Debswana Mining Company which is a partnership between De Beers and the Botswana government), Orapa mines, Karowe mines, Damtshaa mines, Letlhakane mines and Lerala mines. 

Diamonds make up more than half of Botswana’s exports and about a quarter of her GDP. The Debswana sorting and selling facility situated in the country’s capital Gaberone, is the largest in the world and through it, De beers control the sale of all rough diamonds mined by Debswana. 

The Jwaneng mines are located about 120km from the city of Gaberone and are the richest diamond mine in the whole world. Jwaneng, which means “place of small stones”, is an apt name for the mine. 

Botswana started mining diamonds in 1967 after they gained their independence. In 2015, the second largest diamond to ever have been mined in the world -the Sewelo, a 1758 carat diamond- was discovered in the Karowe mine. Other impressive diamonds such as the 1109 carat Lesedi la Rona and the 813-carat Constellation have also been mined in the Karowe mine. 

It is no wonder that the mine is called Karowe, which means Precious stone in the local language. In 2018, 24 million carats of diamonds were produced in Botswana.

The Mines in Angola include the Catoca diamond mine, Laurica diamond mine, Lulo mine and the Fucauma diamond mine. Angola made its first discovery of diamonds in 1912 but a civil war funded by the diamond proceeds which lasted for over twenty-five years left the country in terrible damage. 

The Catoca mine is the fourth largest diamond mine in the world and is operated by Sociedad Mineira de Catoca. The mine is a joint venture between three parties; Endiama, Angola’s state-owned diamond company, the Russian-based Alrosa and Lev Leviev international, a Chinese company. 

The total amount of rough diamonds reported to have been produced in Angola in 2018 was 8.4 million carats, valued at about $1.2 billion. In 2019, the country’s production of industrial and semi-industrial diamonds increased to 19.15 million carats with stones sales reaching $1.3 billion. 

While in the past diamonds made the bulk of Angola’s economy, in recent times they play only a supporting role. Oil is now the major contributor to the country’s economy.

South Africa

holds the record for the largest diamond discovery in the world. In 1905, Callunan, the world’s largest diamond at 3016.75 carats, was discovered in South Africa. The huge, magnificent diamond was cut into nine pieces and used in the British crown jewels. 

One of the nine pieces adorns her crown and the others, her scepter. Diamond mining has gone on for over 150 years. With production exceeding 8.3 million carats, the country’s diamond exports were valued at about $1.5 billion in 2016. 

The mines in South Africa include the Baken mine, Cullinan mine, Finsch mine, Kimberly mine, Koffiefontein mine, and Venetia mine.

The Democratic Republic of Congo

is the third-largest producer of diamonds in Africa and according to the country’s chamber of mines, most stones are mined by small-scale miners whose numbers range between 200,000-40,000.

 Although the country is rich in diamonds, the proceeds from stone sales is an unimpressive amount owing to the effects of corruption, political instability, and genocide which rock the country. 

The Bakwanga and Forminiere mines are the DRC’s major mines while a majority of the other mines are in rebel territories.

Namibia’s economy depends heavily on diamond mining as diamonds make up at least half of the country’s foreign exchange. In recent times, diamond supplies on land have dwindled and become scarce and as such the country has been forced to explore mining offshore. 

Other countries in Africa where diamonds are mined include Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Guinea, Guinea Bissau and Lesotho.

Diamond Mines in Africa; Gift or Curse?

Sometimes, the diamond mines in Africa are a curse to the communities they are situated. About 60% of the world’s diamonds are mined in Africa, contributing approximately US$8.5 billion to the continent each year. 

The discovery of diamonds in Africa opened the doors to new opportunities, unimaginable wealth, more robust economies, tax revenues, new employment and a potential for massive infrastructural growth. 

It also brought with itself an avenue for continued corruption in a continent already rife with it, civil wars and genocides.

In Botswana, the discovery of diamonds revitalised the country’s economy. In 1966 when the country gained its independence, Botswana was one of the poorest countries in the world. In 1967 however, the country began to experience transformation when a large deposit of diamonds was discovered in Orapa.

 Mining began in the country, establishing the world’s largest diamond mines. The revenue from diamond mining in Botswana has been channelled into funding basic education, free healthcare, infrastructure and HIV care.

In Namibia, revenue from the diamond mining industry makes up about 45% of the country’s export revenue and 10% of its GDP. In South Africa, about US$4.1 million has been invested yearly in social development projects and in Kimberly, the mine has been transformed into a tourism site through the investment of approximately US$7.4 million. This has created new employment and businesses in the community. 

Although the setting up of diamond mines and revenues from diamonds have brought about a lot of good in Africa, the story is not all great. Many of the diamonds mined in Africa are mined under terrible conditions and by exploitative practices such as child labor.

Many workers in the diamond mines are grossly underpaid and earn less than a dollar a day. Miners work without proper training, safety gear and are involved in terrible accidents often. Child labor is commonplace and corrupt leaders deprive local mining communities of the funds they need for their infrastructural growth. 

diamond mines in africa

Children are quite often employed in diamond mines for their cheap labor. Unfortunately, child workers are used as slaves, do not attend school, are not trained or provided with proper protective gear or proper tools. They’re often injured or killed in landslides.

 Because of their size, children may be assigned dangerous tasks such as entering narrow mineshafts. As these children do not go to school, they remain miners even at older ages as they do not have the options that education would have given them. 

In the Democratic Republic of Congo, many of the mines are in rebel lands and the revenue from mining in those mines is lost. The mining of diamonds in Africa has been done over the years with a lot of violence, degradation of the environment, smuggling, and worker exploitation. 

Revenue from diamonds mined under cruel conditions has been used to fund wars in Angola, DRC, and other countries. In the 1990s blood-stained diamonds were internationally sold, exposing the reality of diamond mining tragedies to the world. 

The blood-stained diamonds came to be known around the world as Blood Diamonds. 

Investing in Diamond Mines in Africa

Even with the amount of mining activity currently going on on the continent, Africa is still blessed with yet untapped and unrealized potential, making it an investor’s dream come true.

Before venturing into the diamond mining industry, however, an investor would need to know the laws and legislations that apply and guide the process in his chosen country. You can talk to us about this.

South Africa for example, a key contributor to Africa’s mining sector, in an effort to enable the mining industry to plan better for the future, has implemented the Broad-Based Socio-Economic Empowerment Charter for the Mining and Mineral Industry.

The laws which govern South Africa’s mining have otherwise not changed.

In The Democratic Republic of Congo, on the other hand, mining legislation has undergone a serious transformation with the new mining code announced in March of 2018. 

Shikana Group, an East African firm in Tanzania which deals in different sectors including mining, energy, and oil and gas, maps out customized strategies and follow-through plans to help investors make well-informed and decisive plans. The Shikana group is a client-centric group that focuses on the clients’ needs and factors them into everything, providing in-depth tailor-made solutions. 

Shikana Group offers services in business setup and compliance requirements, asset acquisition and financing, tax advisory, commercial contracts, joint ventures, and due diligence. 

Investors looking to enter the African diamond mining industry would benefit greatly from employing the services of the group as we help the investor do all heavy lifting, ensuring that their investment is profitable and legally correct. 

You can talk to us using the “Request a call back section” below or send us a message here. We will be very glad to help you.

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