Anglo American’s diamond unit De Beers is planning what it says will be the largest diamond mining vessel ever built.
Debmarine Namibia, a 50/50 joint venture between the Namibian Government and De Beers Group, announced Tuesday it has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Norwegian shipbuilder Kleven for the construction of 176-meter custom-built diamond mining vessel.
The new vessel will cost around $142 million and is expected to begin operations in 2021.
At 176m, the vessel will be about two meters longer than the largest vessel currently in Debmarine Namibia’s fleet, the MV Mafuta.
Established in 2002, Debmarine Namibia is the only company in the world to mine diamonds offshore. The company says the new vessel will work alongside its other five other mining vessels as part of its strategy to grow its ability to recover diamonds off Namibia’s Atlantic coast. Mining of Namibia’s offshore diamonds takes place at around 120 to 140 meters below sea level.
Just this past June, Debmarine Namibia took delivery of the 113-meter SS Nujoma, touted as the world’s most advanced diamond mining ship and the first to be dedicated to exploration and sampling. The 12,000-tonne Nujoma was reported to have cost around $157 million to construct and was also built by Kleven.
“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,” said Bruce Cleaver, CEO De Beers Group. “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 capitalize on the work of the mv SS Nujoma, thereby supporting the long-term future of Namibia’s diamond sector.”
Diamond mining is the single biggest contributor to Namibia’s economy, with Debmarine Namibia contributing more than $715 million in revenue annually, according to De Beers.
The new vessel is expected to create 130 new jobs alongside Debmarine Namibia’s current workforce of 900 employees.