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Monday, 21 August, 2000, 09:20 GMT 10:20 UK
Mine magnate Oppenheimer dies
By Greg Barrow in Johannesburg

Harry Oppenheimer, who died on Saturday, was one of the leading South African businessmen of the 20th century.

Mr Oppenheimer was chairman of Anglo-American Corporation and De Beers Consolidated Mines for more than 25 years.

Harry Oppenheimer
Oppenheimer: Among South Africa's most successful businessmen
After inheriting South Africa's biggest private fortune from his father, he built Anglo-American and De Beers into two of the most powerful businesses in the world.

He became one of the richest and most successful diamond and mining magnates in South Africa.

Although he retired more than 15 years ago, the Oppenheimer name continued to be associated with diamonds and gold through his son, Nicky, who is the current chairman of De Beers and non-executive deputy chairman of Anglo-American.

The Oppenheimer business empire was built on the natural resources that made South Africa rich.

But only careful and astute management at the mining houses has helped them to survive and prosper into the 21st century.

Politics

Harry Oppenheimer was a businessman who dabbled in politics.

In 1948, he won an an opposition seat in Kimberly at the dawn of the apartheid era.

He was never a radical reformer, but he did clash with the apartheid authorities over his more enlightened approach towards the black South Africans who worked on his mines.

He recognised the need to negotiate with black trade unions, and tried to improve working conditions on the mines.

In a statement marking his death at the age of 91, the Anglo-American Corporation said South Africa had lost one of its greatest sons.

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27 Mar 00 | Africa
De Beers ban on rebels' diamonds
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