De Beers on Friday in Cape Town, South Africa, celebrated the naming and blessing of “Peace in Africa,” the first marine diamond mining vessel to operate in the South African waters. The company will mine for marine diamonds in the Atlantic, off Namaqualand in the Northern Cape Province.
The 1.1 billion rand ($155 million) ship will operate off the west coast of South Africa, and is the culmination of 23 years of exploration and investigation into the potential of mining the deep sea areas off the Namaqualand coast. De Beers said it will use similar technology as that deployed off the Namibian coast where marine production exceeds that from the land based mines. The vessel is equipped with a large undersea tracked mining tool (crawler) and has a specialized diamond recovery treatment plant on board.
“The production expected from the South African Sea areas offers the prospect of additional, good quality, profitable diamond production for De Beers which will make a valuable contribution to the South African economy,” David Noko, managing director of De Beers Consolidated Mines, said during the ceremony.
De Beers said mining is expected to begin in June, and, once fully commissioned, the mining vessel is expected to yield approximately 240,000 carats per year, with an estimated operating life of 30 years.
“Should results from this marine mining operation exceed expectations we will certainly be considering additional vessels,” Noko said.
Noko also said that De Beers will make a “significant contribution” to the Richtersveld Community through local economic development projects and it will supply its fleets from a newly constructed supple center in Port Nolloth where the company renovated the ports infrastructure to meet the new business activity in the region.” The center will open on Thursday.
Turning to Black Economic Empowerment, David
Noko also said that 76 percent of local procurement went to black economic empowerment companies and out of the total cost of the project BEE suppliers received 30 percent of the business.
“I think this illustrates the approach we have adopted as a company; an approach of partnership with governments, with communities, and with local businesses thereby helping bring wider benefits of diamond mining to producer countries, and building a promising economic and social future where we mine and trade our production,” Noko said.