Angola's new president João Lourenço, who took power in September and says he wants to shed Angola’s image as an opaque oil economy with rampant corruption, continues to make good on his promise to tackle family monopolies and make Angola more attractive to investors. According to an exclusive report from Reuters, he has offered investors diamond exploration licenses that previously belonged to Isabel dos Santos, daughter of the former president Jose Eduardo dos Santos, among other licenses. During a meeting at a mining conference in Cape Town (Mining Indaba) last month, the president of state diamond company Endiama, José Manuel Ganga Júnior, said the licenses had expired and were now available for new exploration partners. This should be welcome news to mining companies eager to explore Angola's diamondiferous land. Currently, Russian diamond mining giant ALROSA is the only major diamond company currently producing in Angola via its stake in the Catoca mine, a mine with the potential to become one of the world's largest.
Isabel dos Santos is Africa’s richest woman with assets across multiple sectors in Angola and Portugal from jewelry to supermarkets. Her family has been a powerful force in Angola for four decades but her star has faded since her father, President José Eduardo dos Santos, stepped down last year. President Lourenço dismissed her as chair of state oil company Sonangol, Angola’s most important firm, in November. As we reported last December, in an earlier move to pry Angola's diamond interests from the clutches of the dos Santos family, Angolan state-owned diamond company Sodiam also divested a stake in Geneva-based jewelry maker De Grisogono - a Swiss firm controlled by the husband of Isabel dos Santos for “reasons of public interest and legality”. The licenses for primary deposits mentioned in slides accompanying the presentation of a closed-door meeting with mining companies seen by Reuters, were for Camafuca-Camazambo, Mulepe, Sangamina, Chiri, and Tchiegi. All are located in the north-eastern diamond producing provinces of Lunda Norte and Lunda Sul. A source in the Angolan diamond industry told Reuters the Camafuca-Camazambo and Chiri licenses had previously been in the hands of Isabel dos Santos.
“We are ready to start from zero to negotiate in the best conditions, the best possibilities for the good of Endiama, our country and potential shareholders,” Ganga Junior said. “Apart from Endiama, which has to be a partner by law, the rest is open.”