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Rio Tinto Takes 75% Stake in Angola Exploration Site

Rio Tinto has formed a joint venture with Angolan state-owned diamond company Endiama that will see the pair explore one of the country’s potential mines.

The deal focuses on the Chiri kimberlite in Angola’s Lunda Sul region, Rio Tinto said Sunday. The mining giant has secured a 75% stake in the first phase of the 35-year agreement, while Endiama has retained a 25% interest, according to a government statement Thursday. The contract leaves open the possibility for Endiama to increase its holding to 49%.

“The JV [joint venture] will embark on a staged program of evaluation that will take a minimum of five years to determine if the project will progress to development,” a Rio Tinto spokesperson told Rapaport News. The company will operate and manage the project, she added.

Work on the concession will begin this year, stated Endiama CEO José Manuel Augusto Ganga Júnior. The mine is likely to have been installed by 2024, though its exact potential is unknown, he observed.

The Chiri mine is one of several exploration licenses from the property of Isabel dos Santos, the daughter of former Angolan president José Eduardo dos Santos, according to a Reuters report from 2018. The government took control of this and other assets as part of a crackdown on family monopolies, and began offering them to outside investors.

Rio Tinto has been seeking new diamond-mining opportunities in Africa “for quite some time,” noted M’zée Fula Ngenge, chairman of the African Diamond Council, in a post on LinkedIn.

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