Petra Diamonds founder steps down

adonis poroulis

South Africa’s Petra Diamonds is saying goodbye to Adonis Pouroulis, the company’s founder and chairman for 23 years.

The diamond producer, which dropped the role of chief operating officer in November because of management restructuring, said Pouroulis is being succeeded by Peter Hill, who was appointed a non-executive director of Petra and chairman-designate in December.

Hill began his career in the gold division of Anglo American, moving later to Rossing Uranium in Namibia, then to London as mining engineer with then BP Minerals, and later joining Consolidated Gold Fields.

Petra has been seeking to turn around its fortunes after piling up debt to expand its iconic Cullinan mine in South Africa, where the world’s largest-ever diamond was found in 1905.

In September, it reported a 22% drop in annual profit amid falling diamond prices and the company’s investment in Cullinan aimed at reviving the aging operation. The company’s share price collapsed to a record low as it also revealed it was writing down the value of its mines. 

Just when the first signs of stabilization in the sector were starting to appear, the novel coronavirus pandemic forced Petra to halt its production outlook for 2020.

The company closed its mines in South Africa last week for a mandatory 21-day lockdown aimed at slowing the spread of covid-19.

Its remote Williamson diamond mine, in Tanzania, said Petra, continues to be “closely monitored.”