After numerous meetings and boardroom battles, the world’s largest mining company at the time, De Beers Consolidated Mines, was finally formed in March 1888. The major players in the diamond mining industry at the time – Cecil Rhodes, Barney Barnato, Alfred Beit, and Frederic Phillipson-Stow – all became Life Governors.
These four men, together with other pioneers and financiers, controlled the De Beers Company until 1929, when the new majority shareholder, Sir Ernest Oppenheimer took control. The Oppenheimer family subsequently owned De Beers Consolidated Mines when they sold their shares to Anglo-American plc.
De Beers Consolidated Mines introduced the basic underground mining technics of Chambering and the Block Cave Systems, all subsequent companies improving on the system, especially in regard to recovery in the treatment plants.
De Beers finally sold the Kimberley Underground Mines to Petra Diamonds in May 2010, having closed the mines in August 2005, Petra operating underground under licence from September 2007. Ekapa purchased the surface Tailings Mineral Resources TMR’s and the modern CTP treatment plant from De Beers as a going concern in January 2016.
Petra Diamonds subsequently entered into an agreement with Kimberley Ekapa Minerals in July 2016, the company becoming known as Kimberley Ekapa Mining Joint Venture (KEM JV).
This partnership was dissolved when Ekapa purchased the entire interests of the Kimberley mines from Petra in July 2018 when Ekapa became the largest privately owned diamond mining company in the world and sole owner/operator of three diamond mines, Dutoitspan, Bultfontein and Wesselton.