SouthernEra president decides to step down
Jennings to go back to finding diamonds

Doug Ashbury
Northern News Services

NNSL (Oct 11/99) - The man who helped stake the Diavik claims and found Marsfontein, the richest kimberlite in the world, is stepping down at SouthernEra Resources, it was announced.

Christopher Jennings, the president and chief executive officer of Toronto-based SouthernEra, intends to relinquish his position at the end of the year.

Back in 1991, Jennings assisted Aber Resources with the staking of Diavik. Aber president and CEO, Robert Gannicott, said Jennings determined where Aber should stake.

After Dia Met announced its discovery (now Ekati), "we got hold of Chris Jennings," Gannicott said.

Jennings would actually drive the stakes into ground, which today, holds the Diavik resource.

If the Diavik diamond project goes ahead, Jennings stands to make millions of dollars. His key role in the 1991 staking earned him a one per cent royalty.

Diavik has an estimated resource of 101 million carats worth about $50 US a carat for a total value of $5.1 billion US.

SouthernEra's board intends to elect Jennings as the non-executive chairman of the company.

"In this position, Dr. Jennings will continue to play a central role in the company's exploration and development activities," SouthernEra said in a release Wednesday.

"The international search identified a number of attractive candidates whom we feel confident would ensure that SouthernEra will realize the full potential of both our diamond properties and projects, and the Messina platinum mines property in South Africa," said Jennings.

"We expect to be able to announce the appointment of a new president and CEO prior to year end," he added.

SouthernEra opened Thursday at $2.74 on the Toronto Stock Exchange, down one cent, and well below the 52-week high of $9.10.

SouthernEra, whose majority shareholder is Kennecott Canada Inc., has a stake in several other Northwest Territories properties, among them the Back Lake, Mackay Lake and Commonwealth properties.

Kennecott Canada is an affiliate of Kennecott Exploration Inc. of Utah, a subsidiary of Rio Tinto Plc. Rio Tinto is 60 per cent owner of the Diavik diamond project.

As well as Canada, SouthernEra has properties in South Africa, Angola, Zimbabwe, Brazil and Uruguay.

After a legal battle with De Beers over control of Marsfontein, SouthernEra came away with just a 40 per cent stake in the joint-venture in South Africa.

Marsfontein's diamond-bearing kimberlite is worth $315 US per tonne (Source: RBC Dominion Securities). Rough diamonds from this pipe are worth $140 US per carat. Comparable numbers from Diavik's richest pipe are $302 US per tonne and $63 per carat.