Russia grants four diamond exploration permits

De Beers-controlled firm still in dispute over Verkhotina project
Russia grants four diamond exploration permits

The Russian ministry of natural resources has granted four diamond exploration permits for sites in the Murmansk district in north-western Russia, according to reports by Antwerp Facets News Service.

The major known diamond deposit in Russia’s northwest, called Lomonosov, is being developed by Severalmaz OJSC, which was formerly controlled by De Beers and is now a subsidiary of the state-run diamond mining company, Alrosa.

De Beers, through its controlling interest in Archangel Diamond Corporation, is engaged in a legal dispute over the Verkhotina project with Arkhangelskgeoldobycha, a subsidiary of Russia’s largest oil producer, LUKoil, over the Grib kimberlite pipe. The matter is due to come up before the Stockholm Arbitration Tribunal in June 2008.

The Grib pipe is some 70 km from the Lomonosov deposit, and is thought to contain diamonds worth $5 billion.

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