The world’s largest and most advanced diamond exploration and sampling vessel, the mv SS Nujoma, is ready to start exploring for diamond deposits in Namibian waters, following its official inauguration today, writes De Beers in a press release. The US$157 million (N$2.3 billion) vessel will enable Debmarine Namibia, a 50/50 joint venture between the Government of the Republic of Namibia and De Beers Group, to explore diamond deposits and secure diamond supply in the country well into the future. Debmarine Namibia is the only company in the world to mine diamonds offshore, having started in 2002. The company produced around 1.2 million carats in 2016.
Mining of Namibia’s diamonds – some of the most valuable in the world – takes place at around 120 to 140 metres below sea level. Through its advanced exploration capabilities, the SS Nujoma will enable Debmarine Namibia to increase resource development for the mining fleet, and is the first in the company’s fleet of five other vessels to be dedicated to exploration and sampling. It incorporates a range of unique technologies that allow it to sample faster, take larger samples and collect more information per sample than any other diamond sampling vessel. It is capable of sampling at more than double the speed of its predecessor. The 12,000 ton, diesel-electric powered vessel has created 140 direct new jobs, the vast majority of which have been filled by Namibians. The inauguration follows five months of successful sea trials.
Namibia’s Minister of Mines and Energy, Obeth Kandjoze, said: “Today marks an important milestone for offshore diamond mining in Namibia. The mv SS Nujoma represents the largest ever capital investment in underwater diamond mining and will ensure a long-term, sustainable future for offshore diamond mining in Namibia, as well as creating important new jobs for Namibians.” Bruce Cleaver, CEO, De Beers Group, said: “Offshore diamond mining is becoming increasingly important in meeting global demand for diamonds as many of the major onshore deposits have now been discovered. The mv SS Nujoma will allow even more of Namibia’s high quality offshore diamonds to be discovered and mined, ensuring a strong future for Namibia’s diamond industry, as well as the global diamond market.” Diamond mining is the single biggest contributor to Namibia’s economy. The partnership between De Beers Group and the Namibian Government delivers more than $780 million (N$10 billion) in revenue annually.