Namdeb Holdings, a 50/50 joint venture between the Government of the Republic of Namibia and De Beers Group, today (Feb. 9) announced it is to seek a buyer for its Elizabeth Bay mine to secure its long-term future, according to a De Beers Group release. The mine was commissioned in 1991 and is located along the south-western coast of Namibia near the town Lüderitz. It employs around 160 people and produced around 200,000 carats in 2017. They write, "Elizabeth Bay mine has contributed significantly over the years to the local economy of Lüderitz, particularly in providing high quality job opportunities for the local community." However, spokeswoman Pauline Thomas said in a statement, “Following a recent review, it was concluded that the best way to secure a longer future for the mine, beyond the current projected 2019 life, is to find a more suitable operator,”
In 2009, following the economic downturn, the mine was put on care and maintenance. In 2011, the operation was restarted through the implementation of the Elizabeth Bay Optimisation Project which, at the time, projected a four year Life of Mine (LoM) to 2014. However, continuous innovation ensured that the mine has continued to operate well beyond this time, with a current LoM extending to 2019. A union official said in October that Namdeb planned to close four mines by 2022 as the diamond producer looks for higher-value gemstones offshore now that many major onshore deposits have been depleted. The company now wishes to find a low-cost operator that could allow the mine to continue to contribute to Namibia and Lüderitz through continued employment and economic activity. Diamond mining generates 20 percent of the southern African country’s export earnings.
Riaan Burger, Chief Executive Officer, Namdeb, said: “Elizabeth Bay mine continues to play an important role in the development of Namibia’s diamond industry, so we have not taken this decision lightly. We are constantly reviewing new mining opportunities. As this mine nears the end of its current life, we are focused on finding a buyer that can sustain operations beyond 2019, protect jobs and contribute sustainably to the Namibian economy.” According to De Beers production figures, Namdeb Holdings' production increased by 15% in 2017 to 1.8 million carats from just under 1.6 million carats in 2016, largely as a result of higher mining rates from Debmarine Namibia’s Mafuta vessel.