Alrosa Eyes Africa's Vast Resources

Alrosa, the world's second-largest diamond miner, on Monday said it would vie for control of African resources, including diamonds, oil and gas.

"We should use any chance to increase our resource base in Africa," company president Sergei Vybornov said Saturday at a meeting, according to the transcript posted on the company's web site. "Control over resources means control over the market."

The continent is becoming "the key region" for the world's largest consumers of mineral resources, including China and the United States, Vybornov said. China has been bolstering its presence in Africa 10-fold each year, he said. Global diamond output is set to fall, making Africa more attractive, he said.

The diamond monopoly will seek to expand its presence in Africa through diamond, oil and gas exploration projects, as well as energy and construction. Alrosa may help build hydropower plants in Namibia, the Democratic Republic of Congo and other countries in Africa as it seeks access to the continent's resources, spokesman Andrei Polyakov said by telephone Monday.

Alrosa may build housing and infrastructure in Angola as the country rebuilds after a civil war, Polyakov said. The company is also considering construction projects in Congo and Namibia.

Vybornov met with officials in Angola, Namibia, Congo and Zimbabwe in March, with the aim of boosting the company's African ties. Alrosa has two diamond mines in Angola, as well as an oil and gas exploration joint venture with state-run producers.

Alrosa expects 2008 sales to stay at the same level as 2007 at about $2.9 billion, vice president Yury Doinikov said in the meeting Saturday. The ruble's strengthening reduced the company's sales by 45.8 billion rubles ($2 billion) over the past five years, Doinikov said.