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Petra Diamonds combines Kimberley operations with Ekapa Mining

Petra DiamondsLtd. and EkapaMinerals (Pty.) Ltd. agreed to form an unincorporated joint venturein South Africa that will house the companies' operations in the Kimberley areaand help to lower costs, according to a July 8 news release.

Effective July 1, the joint venture consists of Petra'sKimberleyunderground diamond mines and tailings operations along with Ekapa Mining'stailingsoperations.

Petra has stopped processing ore at its Kimberleyunderground operations, and future processing will be done at a 6million-tonne-per-annum combined treatment plant acquired in January by Ekapa Minerals (Pty.) Ltd., whichis 50.1% owned by Ekapa Mining and 49.9% owned by Petra.

The joint venture will be 75.9% owned by Petra and its blackeconomic empowerment partners and 24.1% owned by Ekapa Mining. Petra's owneffective interest in the venture is 55.47%.

Petra CEO Johan Dippenaar said the joint venture wasexpected to result in "significant synergies" at the Kimberleyoperations, including higher throughput and lower costs, extending theoperation's mine life. The company will publish fiscal 2017 production guidanceon July 25.

In April, the company upped its fiscal 2016 guidance to between 3.6 millioncarats and 3.65 million carats.