Company history and overview
The Lower Orange River Diamonds operations are in a remote desert wilderness area along the banks of the South African side of the Lower Orange River. This river acts as the border between South Africa and Namibia. This mining license encompasses a total combined area of 41,334 hectares.
In the north, the Mining License area overlaps with the Richtersveld Transfrontier National Park by approximately 8,700 hectares.
The Mining License includes eight mining and exploration areas. Each area consists of multiple diamond-bearing alluvial gravel deposits from ancient riverbeds. The eight mining and exploration areas are Baken, Bloeddrift, Nxodap Jakkalsberg, Suidhek, Reuning, AACE, and Swartpoort.
In total, these deposits extend for 109 km along the southern bank of the Orange River, from above the flood line for a 1:100-year flood, to 6 km inland.
Trans Hex Operations (Pty) Ltd, also known as Trans Hex, used to hold the Mining Right issued by the Department of Mineral Resources (DMR). They were also the Lessee of a Notarial Mining Lease, granted by the State as the Lessor, and were the registered owner of the Mining Area, which covered 41 343 hectares of land in the Richtersveld.
As the Trans Hex mining method became financially unviable and unsustainable, the company made the decision to stop mining in September 2017. They placed the mine under care and maintenance and had to let go of the entire labour force, except for five employees. This was financially devastating to the local community as Trans Hex was the only employer in this vast area.
Some ten months later in April 2018, LOR, a company owned by a black woman, purchased the business as a going concern. This acquisition included the Mining Right and the rights to the Mining Lease. Pending the transfer of the Mining Right from Trans Hex to LOR under Section 11 of the DMR, the parties also agreed that LOR would have the sole and exclusive right to carry out the mining operation on behalf of Trans Hex (referred to as the MMA).
During July 2019, LOR received a notice from the DMR stating that its application to transfer the Mining Right from Trans Hex to LOR, in accordance with section 11(1) of the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act, 2002 (Act 28 of 2002), had been approved. Accordingly, the MMA has been terminated.
LOR has hired Plateaux Mining Services (Pty) Ltd (“Plateaux”) to oversee and operate mining activities at the Lower Orange River Complex. Additionally, Plateaux will collaborate with other Junior Diamond Miners who have a wealth of expertise in alluvial diamond mining. Each of the Joint Venture partners has been assigned individual mining sites within the mining area. Each partner is responsible for supplying their own plant and equipment and conducting mining operations at their own expense. The objective is to mine virgin gravels and process the stockpiles previously established by Trans Hex.
As of today, the project has generated employment for over 750 people on Joint Venture and Community Bedrock Contract sites.
LOR vision, mission, values and strategy
To lead in diamond mining in the areas where the company operates within South Africa.
Uplifting of the communities in the areas of operation.
Become a reliable and respected producer through sustainable mining practices.
Responsible environmental practice.
Supporting the economic growth of the operational areas.
Integration of artisanal miners into sustainable operations.
Employee development and empowerment.
Quality performance and delivery.
Short term objectives
Run a profitable business.
Expand the business through natural growth.
Nurture sustainable partnerships.
To create jobs.
Build sustainable management capacity.
Establish and enforce control systems and procedures.
Train staff according to globally recognised practices.
Operate the business in a professional manner.
Long term objectives
Achieve dominance within the areas where we operate.
Create a sustainable business within the international environment.
Promote lasting customer and employee satisfaction.
Implement risk prevention mechanisms and risk assessment strategies.
The importance of the small/junior diamond mining sector
South Africa is blessed with a treasure trove of Mineral Resources and Geology, which includes diamonds. Traditionally the mining industry has been dominated by a large Mining Sector in what is now, for them, a sunset industry or more accurately “Dinosaur”.
In 1980’s the South African mining industry employed 825 000 people generating value add of 257 billion rand. By 2016 this figure had halved and continues to decline. In 2004 the self-funded Junior alluvial diamond-mining sector consisted of over 2000 companies with over 25000 employees. Today this figure has fallen to less than 100 employing 2500 people.
Small diamond miners are facing extinction. This sector requires a robust relook, and reboot, utilizing updated information, new geological approaches, technology and cost effective production methods. We need exploration by entrepreneurs to discover new deposits and small or junior miners to unlock value from small/mid tier deposits. The characteristics and exceptional diamonds found in these deposits need to be highlighted and accurately mined. The approach adopted by Lower Orange River Diamonds, by way of example, for the revival of this essential industry, provides crucial economic activity, employment and sustainable mining in depressed areas.
The current situation is that there has been no world-class diamond mine discovery since 1991. Quality gem diamonds of +2 carats are increasingly in short supply. South Africa has extensive alluvial deposits, with exceptional gemstone diamonds. LOR have a proven track record of exploiting these deposits. The Small and Junior mining sector is under threat. The Mining Charter Implementation Guidelines of “one size fits all” legislation and compliance are incompatible with a small or Junior mining sector. The LOR model mitigates this.