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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

De Beers May Mine in Russia

Anglo American's De Beers, the world's top gem seller, bought a company that has a license to explore for diamonds near St. Petersburg, its first potential mining operation in the world's No. 2 diamond producer.

De Beers bought 75 percent of Petroneft-Diamond, which holds an exploration license for the Luzhskoye field near the country's second-largest city, De Beers spokeswoman Philippa Insch said in a telephone interview from London.

Insch declined to say how much De Beers paid for the stake.

Johannesburg-based De Beers now buys Russian diamonds from diamond-mining monopoly Alrosa.

Russia, the world's second-largest miner of diamonds after Botswana, produces about $1.6 billion of rough diamonds a year.

Government-owned Alrosa has said it wants to boost gem sales by a quarter to $2 billion in 2005, intensifying its rivalry with De Beers.

Vedomosti reported Friday that De Beers expects the government to change legislation to allow foreign-controlled companies to extract diamonds, citing Philip Hill, deputy general director at De Beers' Moscow office.

Hill declined to comment on the report.