Friday, February 22, 2019
Johan Dippenaar

Johan Dippenaar

Petra Diamonds

JOHAN Dippenaar’s Petra Diamonds has on five occasions been the happy recipient of a strategy by De Beers Group to sell its ‘marginal’ mines, most of them held in Kimberley’s De Beers Consolidated Mines (DBCM). Lining up as De Beers’ preferred bidder has in less than a decade positioned Petra to grow production to five million carats by 2019 from 1.16 million carats. The latest acquisition for Petra has been through a consortium in which it has taken over DBCM’s Kimberley Mines tailings retreatment operation – a deal that ends DBCM’s long operational association with Kimberley. In combination with consortium partner, Ekapa Minerals, Petra will effectively re-consolidate tailings assets that DBCM had separated in its life-extension efforts. So successful has Petra’s strategy been that De Beers Group has faced questions about whether it sold its South African (and Tanzanian) assets too soon. Although Dippenaar operates a tight ship, the downturn in diamond prices, and the increase in net debt by dint of the cost of funding its development pipeline means his group had to apply for a debt covenant holiday - duly granted. Dippenaar has, in the meantime, promised a vastly different production and cost profile at his firm’s Cullinan and Finsch mines as fresh ore is treated.


Dippenaar, who enjoys a game of squash, is a chartered accountant with the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants. He joined Petra Diamonds in 2005 when the exploration company merged with ASX-listed Crown Diamonds where he was CEO.