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De Beers Says Still in Talks With Namibia Over Mines Venture

De Beers, the world’s largest diamond producer, said talks with Namibia about its mining venture in the country are yet to be completed, after a newspaper reported that the African nation will increase its stake.

Namdeb Diamond Corp. will be dissolved and replaced by a new 50-50 venture between government and De Beers, the Namibian Sun said, citing a Cabinet document. The state will make a contribution of 375 million Namibian dollars ($54 million) to buy 50 percent of De Beers Marine Namibia and receive 260 million Namibian dollars in backdated dividends, it said.

Namdeb is owned equally by De Beers and the government. De Beers holds 70 percent of De Beers Marine Namibia and Namdeb the balance. Namdeb and De Beers Marine Namibia extract diamonds mainly from the Atlantic Ocean floor off the coast of the south-west African country.

Namibia accounted for 5.5 percent of De Beers’ total 2010 output of 33 million carats, producing 1.47 million carats last year.

De Beers has held “a long series of negotiations around the future of our diamond mining interests in Namibia,” it said in an e-mailed response to questions today. “These are coming to an end, but we’re not quite there yet.” De Beers may announce details of the talks “in the very near future,” it said, without indicating whether the Namibian Sun report was accurate or not.

Anglo American Plc owns 45 percent of De Beers while the Oppenheimer family holds 40 percent and Botswana’s government the rest.

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