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The story of Diamond Lakes and the legendary Pienaar’s Pothole

The story of Diamond Lakes and the legendary Pienaar’s Pothole is what intrigued Dr Navin Naidoo to go into the world of Diamonds and Diamond Mining.

After having practised Medicine for many years, he completed an LLB degree and successfully did his pupillage at the Pretoria Bar in 2003, passing the National Bar Exam later that year. He was admitted as an Advocate of the High Court of South Africa in 2003, and began practice as a barrister/advocate that year, in addition to being a doctor.

The company Staten Island Trading Pty Ltd (SIT) was created in 2006 by Dr Naidoo and was created to exercise an option that existed at the time in 3 dormant alluvial diamond mines in the North West Province of South Africa.

The mines had been shut down by the then Department of Minerals and Energy following the change in Legislation of Mining Law in 2004, and although there was huge risk associated with the projects at that time, Dr Naidoo steered Staten Island Trading into acquiring an equity stake in all three mines from the Roux Family.


Records show that the mines were steeped in trouble at the time, with at least one bank having begun foreclosure proceedings, a land claim having been intimated, and most worrying of all at the time, no valid right to mine any of the properties.

The lifeline provided by Staten Island trading saved the mines from the banks, and since then, SIT and the Roux’s have co-owned the mines. Dr Naidoo is a Director of SIT and sits as a Director on each of the three mines, Mat Roux and Sons Diamond Mining, Diamond Lakes and Better Life Diamond Mining.

He has set a plan in motion for SIT to offset much of the financial benefits that will come from carbon heavy mining operations towards social development and social justice projects. The concept of “Mining with a Conscience” is a very bold angle for any capitalist, but he argues that this is fundamental to anyone buying a diamond through his sources being able to reconcile themselves with the mining process and the individual carbon imprint that their diamond is responsible for.

Anyone buying a diamond through SIT, or any of its affiliates, he says, will be able to track the benefit that their diamond purchase has given not only to the local community, but to all SIT’s social development and social justice projects. This revolutionary company aims to stand out from the crowd by aiming to achieve complete carbon neutrality for its entire production by working closely with carbon offsetting ventures, and through cooperation with alternative energy production companies.

The Roux family have generations of mining experience and a strategic joint venture partnership with SIT, which is a significant factor in the successful and profitable operation of the mines. This growing knowledge and expertise have led to many remarkable milestones, such as;
•    The exploration of marine mining options on the West Coast of SA by SIT.
•    A planned joint venture laser diamond cutting and polishing works.
•    Investments in sustainable resource management.
•    Alternative energy generation.
•    Healthcare and social development.

The last few years have seen Dr Naidoo spend most of the year in Australia working as a medical doctor, travelling regularly to South Africa for mining and litigation. He has completed an Australian Juris Doctor degree and has also been awarded Fellowship to the Australasian College of Legal Medicine. He started a company in Australia called Bloodless Diamonds Australia which is modelled on the same basis as SIT with its social development endeavours.

The Staten Island Trading Bursary Fund is the project that Dr Naidoo hopes to develop robustly going into next year. He is currently working on an educational funding system in Australia that he hopes will revolutionize the way small to medium sized companies assist students financially, in return for very valuable student time, expertise and specialized knowledge.

A similar plan exists for South Africa.  In this regard, he alludes to SIT’s drone program as being the most exciting thing since the last Star Wars Movie. “What better way to run a drone surveillance program, than by a bunch of cash strapped students with IT and computer skills?”, marry that up with “what better way to monitor a terrestrial mine site and mine works program than with aerial drones”, and then “factoring in the applications drones have in marine mining, both aerial and underwater”, leaves him with a glint in his eye and a smile. Everyone wins, the corporates and the students.

SIT has begun a substantial private equity raising on the basis of all three mine sites being operational under New Order Mine Rights, and it is intended that most capital raised will be used towards increasing diamond recovery and production. They envisage a second phase of capital raising by later this year to explore mid-water ocean mining at depths of up to 50 metres off the West Coast of South Africa.



Nov/Dec 2017 Edition







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