Namibian Ice Heats Up Marine Mining Plans

Mining and Exploration
21/11/2017 15:15

Interest in mining Namibian waters for diamonds is running hot, as yesterday (Nov. 20) Canadian miner Diamond Fields International (DFI) announced it is set to resume its mining activities off the coast of Namibia in 2018, while Norwegian shipbuilder Kleven signed an MoU with De Beers Marine Namibia for building an offshore vessel purpose-designed to support seabed mining operations. 

DFI, with partner International Mining and Dredging Holdings (IMDH) said their 2016 bulk sampling program produced results that were, "extremely encouraging, with an unexpected high frequency of large, high-value stones." The companies have agreed to an initial mining program on its ML 111 licence. The initial mining program is scheduled to commence in 2018 and will extend over a sea floor area of approximately 55 hectares. The program is to be executed using the state of the art Ya Toivo mining vessel which is equipped with a 4 point-mooring-system integrated anchor-assist and a dynamic positioning (DP2) system which ensures vessel stability during turbulent sea conditions. The vessel is further equipped with a Remotely Operated Subsea Tractor, capable of highly efficient and selective mining on the sea floor.

Sybrand Van Der Spuy, CEO of DFI said : "We are extremely excited at the prospect of being back in production in the very near future. Our product is recognized throughout the world for its exceptional quality, being 98% gem and we look forward to bringing this niche product back to the market again. This program will provide our Company with the opportunity to generate significant cash-flow in short order."

Earlier this year, Debmarine Namibia, a 50/50 joint venture between the Government of the Republic of Namibia and De Beers Group, launched the US$157 million (N$2.3 billion) vessel the mv SS Nujoma, also built by Kleven, to explore for diamond deposits in Namibian waters. Debmarine Namibia produced around 1.2 million carats in 2016. Namibian Diamonds are some of the most valuable in the world. The new 176m ship will be the longest vessel to date to be built at the Kleven yard in Ulsteinvik, Norway. ‘We are really pleased to continue our partnership with De Beers Marine Namibia, and to work with them on the realization of this extraordinary vessel. At this stage it is an MoU, but both parties have every intention of turning this into a firm agreement during the first few months of 2018,’ said Ståle Rasmussen, CEO of Kleven.

De Beers notes that the new vessel, which is projected to cost approximately US$142 million (N$2 billion), is expected to commence operations in 2021. Bruce Cleaver, CEO De Beers Group, said: “There is a great amount of potential in Namibia’s marine diamond deposits and this new vessel will support our strategy to continue to grow our offshore operations. Earlier this year we launched the mv SS Nujoma, the world’s largest diamond sampling and exploration vessel, and this has improved our ability to target our mining activities. The acquisition of a new, custom-built mining vessel will help capitalise on the work of the mv SS Nujoma, thereby supporting the long-term future of Namibia’s diamond sector.” They say the new vessel is expected to create 130 new jobs alongside Debmarine Namibia’s current workforce of 900 employees.