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De Beers Launches World’s Largest Diamond Exploration Ship

Kitco News

Image courtesy of De Beers Group
A $157-million vessel will be exploring the coast of Namibia in the search of diamond seabed deposits in order to maintain high production levels.

The ship is being launched by Debmarine Namibia — a 50/50 joint venture between De Beers and Namibia, a country located in southwest Africa.

“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,” a statement released by De Beers stated.

The 12,000-tonne, 113-metre-long SS Nujoma ship was named after Namibia's founding president and was built in Norway. It can have as many as 80 crew members aboard and is equipped with a helicopter deck.

The vessel also has sonar and drilling technology to search and take samples from the ocean floor.

This is the sixth and fastest ship to join the Debmarine Namibia's fleet.

“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,” the country’s Minister of Mines and Energy, Obeth Kandjoze, said in the media release.

This venture is very important to Namibia, with diamond mining being “the single biggest contributor to Namibia’s economy,” according to the statement.

Marine diamonds have great potential, with Debmarine Namibia estimating that 95% of its diamonds will come from the seabed off the coast of south-west Africa.

“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,” said CEO of De Beers Group, Bruce Cleaver.

De Beers currently has a license to operate in Namibia until 2035.

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