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Collapse at Jagersfontein Mine Kills One

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Joshua Freedman • 12-09-2022

At least one person has died in a dam collapse at the Jagersfontein mine in South Africa, a diamond deposit in which Stargems recently invested.

“The tailings of the abandoned local mine burst open, leading to damages to infrastructure, personal property and homes,” the South African government said in a statement on its website Sunday. “The untold damages in and around the community of Charlesville in Jagersfontein are extensive and [have] negatively impacted the community.”

The incident has displaced an unspecified number of people, while others lost property and some are injured or missing, the government added. Authorities in the Free State province initially said three people had died and later revised the number to one, according to Reuters.

Jagersfontein Developments, which owns the tailings dam, said it was aware of one fatality. The company has been in touch with the family, it added, noting that the fact that the collapse was into the floodplain limited injury and damage to property. It has paused operations at the treatment facility until it is safe to resume.

The company has also made around ZAR 20 million ($1.2 million) available immediately to help the local community and finance the cleanup and the town’s restoration. It also said the wastewater was not hazardous.

Jagersfontein has produced some of the world’s largest stones, including the 995-carat Excelsior diamond in 1893. De Beers sold the mine in 2010 to Superkolong Consortium, a Black-owned company, in line with the government’s efforts to promote Black investment in the country’s assets.

Until earlier this year, the mine was in the possession of Reinet Investments, a Luxembourg-based business run by Richemont chairman Johann Rupert. Rough-diamond trading group and tender house Stargems acquired a minority shareholding in the site — along with rights to an alluvial project near Kimberley — for an undisclosed amount in April.

“A full due diligence was conducted prior to this acquisition indicating that the assets, including the dam, were safe and secure,” a spokesperson for Jagersfontein Developments said in a statement. “A full investigation will be made as to the cause of the collapse.”

Image: The Jagersfontein mine site. 

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