BHP sells diamond mine

BHP has completed the sale of its diamond business to Dominion Diamond Corporation.

The sale includes the company’s interests in the Canadian EKATI diamond mine.

Dominion Diamond Corporation (formerly Harry Winston Diamond Corporation) paid US$553 million including adjustments for the mine.

The sale of the diamonds business to Dominion Diamond was announced in November last year but remained subject to regulatory approval and other customary closing conditions, all of which have since been satisfied.

In a statement the company confirmed BHP Billiton employees working at EKATI, in Yellowknife and in Diamonds Marketing in Antwerp have become employees of Dominion Diamond.

Dominion will also assume BHP’s environmental responsibilities at the mine.

EKATI was Canada’s first diamond mine.

Australian Mining reported BHP’s move away from the diamond industry in November 2011, as the company attempted to refocus efforts on its larger iron ore, petroleum and coal operations.

‘‘The divestment of EKATI is consistent with our focus on large, long-life, low-cost, expandable, upstream assets and together with the recent sale of our interests in Richards Bay Minerals and Yeelirrie, reflects our ongoing pursuit of a simpler business,’’ BHP’s chief of non-ferrous, Andrew Mackenzie, said at the time.

The Ekati mine is expected to have another seven years of supply and has produced more than $750 million worth of rough diamonds, equating to six per cent of the world’s supply by value.

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