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De Beers

Company Overview

The De Beers Group has been involved in all aspects of the diamond industry since its formation in 1888. In 1990 the Group was divided into two main companies, De Beers Consolidated Mines Limited and De Beers Centenary AG.

De Beers Consolidated Mines Limited controls the De Beers Group's South African based operations, activities and investments. De Beers Centenary AG administers those operations, activities and investments that fall outside of South Africa

Today, the De Beers Group is the largest diamond mining company in the world, producing over 40 per cent of the world's gem diamonds by value from its own mines in South Africa and, in partnership with government, in Botswana, Namibia and Tanzania. De Beers' gem mining operations span every category of diamond mining - open pit, underground, alluvial, coastal and under sea - while its exploration programme extends across six continents. In 2000, De Beers acquired a 100% interest in the Snap Lake project in Canada's Northwest Territories - the project will become the Group's first Canadian diamond mine.

HIV/AIDS Profile

The company has a holistic approach to employee health and wellness. The key components of the company's approach to employee wellness include:

  • The Employee Assistance Programme already in existence
  • HIV/AIDS education and awareness programmes, including the training of peer educators
  • Access to free Voluntary Counselling and Testing (VCT)
  • Conveying the importance of general healthy living
  • Conveying the importance of general fitness and nutrition
  • Disease surveillance and management programmes, eg Tuberculosis control
  • Occupational Health best practice at all operations

In August 2002 DeBeers announced the decision to introduce anti-retroviral treatment as another integral component in its strategy in fighting HIV/AIDS.

Consultation with stakeholders such as Government and trade unions were an important part of the process.

On June 6, 2003 De Beers and the National Union of Mineworkers agreed on a joint HIV/AIDS Workplace Policy. The creation of a supportive environment in which HIV/AIDS will be managed similarly to other illnesses, in compliance with international best practices and in a climate of trust and consultation. Sensitive information will be kept confidential. HIV/AIDS realities will not be ignored, but acknowledged - for example, that infection is preventable, that women are more prone to infection, and that treatment improves the quality of life of infected persons.

According to the joint policy, treatment will be provided free of charge to both employees and spouses or life partners. The policy addresses the important principles of non-discrimination of HIV infected and affected employees, education and training programmes, prevention strategies such as voluntary counseling and testing, and a holistic wellness approach, which now includes the provision of anti-retroviral treatment, particularly to those employees and partners for whom it has until now been inaccessible, and where this can be done in a responsible and sustainable manner.

In the program that started on July 1, 2003, De Beers seeks to provide treatment, care and support to employees as well as life partners through a network of accredited medical practitioners in addition to medical facilities available on mine. Because of this wide network of participating doctors, De Beers is also able to continue treatment for those who are registered on the programme but who leave employment due to retirement, retrenchment or ill-health retirement.

Managing Director of De Beers, Gary Ralfe says, "The provision of anti-retroviral treatment is a moral and humanitarian issue aimed at extending lives and improving the quality of life for infected employees. But it is important to recognise that it is only one aspect of a comprehensive approach by De Beers to employee health and wellness."

"Our vision," adds Ralfe, "is for De Beers to be recognised as an employer of choice, leading the fight against HIV/AIDS by applying best practice. We hope our decision will encourage other considering similar interventions in their fight against HIV/AIDS."

» Read De Beers' HIV/Aids Case Study 2006