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De Beers launches the first Diamond Route Conservation & Research Conference

The first Annual Diamond Route Research Conference is taking place in Johannesburg this week. One hundred and twenty delegates and sixteen leading academics and conservation managers gathered today at the De Beers Campus, south of Johannesburg, to present papers on scientific research undertaken on the eight properties making up the Diamond Route*.

The Diamond Route links eight sites across South Africa in the only miningrelated
ecology route in the world. It stretches from Namaqualand on the
Northern Cape west coast, to Kimberley (Benfontein, Rooipoort and Dronfield
Reserves and The Big Hole Experience), then north to the Tswalu Kalahari
Reserve, west to Brenthurst Gardens in Johannesburg, eastwards to Ezemvelo
Nature Reserve near Bronkhorstspruit, and north to the Venetia Limpopo
Reserve in northern Limpopo Province.

The conference was launched by Manne Dipico, De Beers Deputy Chairman and
Chairman of the empowerment company, Ponahalo Holdings. He commented
that the proceedings illustrated ‘the good diamonds do’ and pointed out the irony
that while it is accepted that mining impacts the environment, it is also the mining
industry that is often an agent for the responsible conservation of ecologically
significant areas in South Africa, and for making privately-owned areas available
to scientists for their established research projects, as well as to visitors seeking
to commune with nature.

Manne Dipico commended the scientists, mining and conservation leaders
present on: “Sharing rather than hording the outcomes of the research projects
that have been undertaken across the Diamond Route, and other sites in De
Beers, Namdeb (in Namibia) and E Oppenheimer & Son properties in South

Dipico noted: “The papers delivered today advance our understanding of the
ecology of many areas. Such sharing of expertise is as meaningful and real as
the soils and vegetation which host the species of animal, insect and bird life
protected on the Diamond Route, and existing alongside local communities and
mines. “

Strilli Oppenheimer, Patron and founder of the Diamond Route, commented that
gatherings such as these help give the body of scientific research undertaken a
wider audience; or ‘academic wings’. “It is the liberation of knowledge that may
otherwise not be exposed to the wider public”.

Manne Dipico concluded: “I expect that diamond mining will contribute more to
ecology going forward, able to do so based on the investments in time and
money made by past generations. I hope for knowledge to flow out of the
Diamond Route, be enriched and flow back in a great circle of life we seek to
create from the good diamonds do. We will continue to host groups from
communities near our mines and to promote an appreciation of the classroom of
nature around us.”

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