The South Africa Land Claims Commission has declared valid a land claim on property close to South Africa’s largest diamond mine at Venetia, which is the flagship operation of De Beers Consolidated Mines.

According to reports, the Tshivhula and Matshete peoples want the land for agriculture, tourism and mining, claiming the land belonged to their ancestors who were forcefully removed more than 100 years ago.

The communities are not making a claim on the mine itself, saying only that they want to investigate how they might be able to have a stake in its operations.

De Beers’ head of external and corporate affairs’ Sakhile Ngcobo, says the firm has not yet arrived at a decision as to the validity of the claims and discussions were continuing with the land claims commissioner and the land claimants.

The De Beers mine is situated in the north of Limpopo near the frontier with Botswana and Zimbabwe. In addition to the Venetia mine, the area also has several high-scale game farms that attract foreign hunters.

The open-pit mine, opened in 1992, is one of De Beers’ six remaining diamond mines in South Africa, and is the only major diamond mine to be developed in the country during the past 25 years. It employs nearly 1,000, and has recovered more than 7 million carats of diamonds from nearly 6 million metric tons of ore.