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Trans Hex to Exit Luarica, Fucauma Diamond Projects in Angola

Aug. 29 (Bloomberg) -- Trans Hex Group Ltd., Africa’s biggest publicly traded diamond producer, said it plans to exit the Fucauma and Luarica projects in Angola as talks over funding new exploration at the sites failed to reached an agreement.

“Exit discussions are underway” between the partners about the projects the Cape Town-based company said in an e-mailed response to questions today. The two mines halted production in May 2009 when Trans Hex and its partner, Endiama EP, mothballed the operations in response to the global financial crisis, which led to a slump in diamond demand.

Endiama, Angola’s state-owned gem company, now plans new exploration at the sites with a view to restarting production, Chairman Antonio Carlos Sumbula told reporters in the northern town of Dundo on Aug. 27. The group also plans more exploration at Lucapa, which it operates with Portugal’s Sociedade Portuguesa de Empreendimentos SPE, he said.

“We have many new investors with whom we have had contact to replace” Endiama’s existing partners at the sites, Sumbula said, declining to comment further.

Shares in Trans Hex, which owns about 35 percent of Luarica and 32 percent of Fucauma, were unchanged at 3.20 rand as of 4 p.m. in Johannesburg, having fallen 18 percent during the last 12 months.

-- Editors: Alastair Reed, Gordon Bell.

To contact the reporters on this story: Jana Marais in Johannesburg on at jmarais@bloomberg.net; Candido Mendes in Luanda on at cmendes6@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Gordon Bell at gbell16@bloomberg.net

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