De Beers opened 250, 000 ha of cross-regional private conservation land called the Diamond Route to tourists. The private land is owned by De Beers Group and the Oppenheimer family.
The environmental conservation and tourism project brings into light not only the diamond-mining features of South Africa but also the cultural and historical aspects of South Africa.
The project covers 9 sites across South Africa. The empowerment partner for the project is Ponahalo Holdings.
The project hopes to develop the cultural, ecological and heritage characteristics of each site. There are also future plans of extending the route into Namibia and Botswana where De Beers also has operations.
At the launch of the initiative, the Chairperson of the Diamond Route, Mr Rob Smart said “Together, we will make a lasting contribution to conservation and enhance environmental awareness in communities in the areas in which we operate, illustrating the good that diamonds do,”
In South Africa the Diamond Route will stretch from Namaqualand diamond coast site (Which is next to he Namaqualand National Park) located west of the country to Kimberley located eastwards. At Kimberley the sites of the Diamond Route includes the Benfontein reserve, Kimberley Big Hole, Dronfield nature reserve and the Rooipoort nature reserve. After Kimberley is the Tswalu Kalahari reserve followed by the Brenthurst Gardens in Johannesburg. Next is the Ezemvelo nature reserve near Pretoria, and finally the Venetia Limpopo Nature reserve near Musina.
Nicky Oppenheimer, the Chairperson of De Beers said “Diamonds are the ultimate product of nature – man has the small task of releasing their beauty. Knowing that our product comes from nature, and is an emotional product, we realise that we must ‘live up’ to the diamonds,”
De Beers is also hoping that the “Diamond Route” will enhance the environmental awareness among its employees, youth in the communities and will also be open to training and research opportunities for Universities.