Di­a­mond gi­ant con­sid­ers fu­ture in city

Diamond Fields Advertiser - - NEWS - PATSY BEANGSTROM NEWS ED­I­TOR

ALTHOUGH al­ready only a frac­tion of what it was just three years ago, De Beers’ foot­print in Kim­ber­ley might soon be a thing of the past.

Fol­low­ing ru­mours that the min­ing com­pany was set to close its head of­fice build­ing in Stock­dale Street, as well as its di­a­mond sort­ing hub and train­ing cen­tre, De Beers said in a state­ment in re­sponse to en­quiries re­gard­ing the fu­ture of the com­pany in Kim­ber­ley that it was “cur­rently go­ing through a re­view of its busi­ness model”.

Se­nior com­mu­ni­ca­tions man­ager, Jackie Mapi­loko, added that De Beers “will in­form its staff and stake­hold­ers in the event of any changes to its cur­rent operating model”.

In May 2015, De Beers an­nounced its in­ten­tion to dis­pose of its Kim­ber­ley Mines as a go­ing con­cern, re­port­edly, ac­cord­ing to the CEO, Phillip Bar­ton, to try ex­tend the life of the op­er­a­tions un­der new own­er­ship.

At the time, Kim­ber­ley Mines em­ployed 353 peo­ple di­rectly as em­ploy­ees and an­other 300 in­di­rectly as con­trac­tors.

Bar­ton stated at the time that De Beers’ other Kim­ber­ley in­ter­ests, in­clud­ing its di­a­mond sort­ing hub, Big Hole re­spon­si­bil­i­ties and Stock­dale Street as the reg­is­tered head of­fice, would re­main un­changed.

Re­cently, how­ever, there have been strong ru­mours in Kim­ber­ley that the Shared Services divi­sion, cur­rently housed in the his­toric Stock­dale Street head of­fice build­ing, as well as the train­ing cen­tre and the di­a­mond sort­ing hub would be moved out of Kim­ber­ley to Jo­han­nes­burg.

De Beers has been in Kim­ber­ley since it was es­tab­lished in 1888 and has mined the kim­ber­lite pipes of the Bult­fontein, De Beers, Du­toitspan, Kim­ber­ley and Wes­sel­ton mines.

It still has a strong le­gacy in the Di­a­mond City but came un­der fire re­cently from the Sol Plaatje City Coun­cil for al­legedly ne­glect­ing its re­spon­si­bil­i­ties with re­gards to Bult­fontein Road, which bor­ders the Big Hole.

The road was closed by the city coun­cil in 2008 on the ad­vice of stud­ies com­mis­sioned by De Beers fol­low­ing fears about the sta­bil­ity of the walls of the ex­ca­va­tion.

The clo­sure not only af­fected nearby busi­nesses but also re­sulted in heavy traf­fic be­ing rerouted through Kim­ber­ley, se­verely dam­ag­ing the city’s road net­work. While Bult­fontein Road re­mains closed, it is cur­rently be­ing used as an in­for­mal taxi rank.

The Sol Plaatje City Coun­cil has, on nu­mer­ous oc­ca­sions, called for the road to be re­ha­bil­i­tated and re­opened. A lack of fund­ing, how­ever, has re­sulted in calls for De Beers to step up to the plate to cover the costs of both sta­bil­is­ing the Big Hole, as well as re­ha­bil­i­tat­ing not only Bult­fontein Road but all other roads in the city dam­aged as a re­sult of ex­ces­sive traf­fic vol­umes and loads.

When he was elected mayor two years ago in 2016, Man­gal­iso Matika again com­mit­ted the city coun­cil to re­open­ing the road but there has been no progress at all in this re­gard.

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