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De Beers makes rare acquisition by buying Canadian diamond mine

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A still image from video shows coloured synthetic diamonds on display at De Beers' International Institute of Diamond Grading and Research in Maidenhead. De Beers has made a rare acquisition, buying a Canadian company, as the world's biggest diamond producer seeks to replace closing mines in the country.

[LONDON] De Beers has made a rare acquisition, buying a Canadian company, as the world's biggest diamond producer seeks to replace closing mines in the country.

The unit of Anglo American Plc agreed to buy Peregrine Diamonds Ltd for about US$81 million, giving it control of the Chidliak diamond resource in northern Canada, the company said in a statement Thursday. De Beers rarely buys assets, partly because it owns some of the best gem mines in the world.

The company has been seeking to increase its exposure to Canada to lessen its dependence on its traditional southern African assets. It closed the ill-founded Snap Lake mine in the country last year, and its Victor mine there is also set to close in 2019. That would leave its newly built Gahcho Kue mine, in which it owns 51 per cent, as its only non-African producing asset.

Canadian production has long helped give De Beers leverage when it negotiates sales rights with host governments in southern Africa, especially Botswana, where its two biggest mines are located. In the first half of this year, 70 per cent of the 9 million carats it mined came from Botswana, with just 11 percent coming from Canada.

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"With a strong outlook for consumer demand, we are seeking new opportunities to invest in our future supply potential and look forward to growing our portfolio in Canada," De Beers CEO Bruce Cleaver said in the statement.

Peregrine Diamonds's CEO is Eric Friedland, the brother of storied mining entrepreneur Robert Friedland who was involved in the development of assets such the Voisey's Bay nickel mine in Canada and the Oyu Tolgoi copper mine in Mongolia. The brothers hold about 43 per cent of Peregrine between them.

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