London-listed miner BHP sells diamond operation to Canada’s Harry Winston

Global miner BHP Billiton Plc (LON:BLT) said it had sealed a deal to shed its diamonds business to Canada-based Harry Winston Diamond Mines Ltd for about USD500m (EUR394.2m) in cash.

The transaction would involve the company’s Ekati diamond mine in Canada and its diamonds marketing activities. Harry Winston would also take on all of the company’s employees working from Yellowknife, Canada and Antwerp, Belgium.

The particular mine is minority-held by certain joint venture parties which have pre-emptive rights to acquire BHP Billiton’s stake. They have 60 days to decide on whether to exercise those rights, with the deal being subject to their waiver or expiration.

The sale is also awaiting regulatory approval and is scheduled for completion in the first quarter of 2013. It mirrors BHP Billiton’s “ongoing pursuit of a simpler business”, as noted by the company’s CEO non-ferrous Andrew Mackenzie. The divestment would lead to an impairment of some USD200m to the carrying value of the asse