Multi-billion-dollar mining company De Beers has launched the world’s largest diamond-hunting vessel in Namibia to boost its off-shore mining operations in the South African country.
The mv SS Nujoma, which is equipped with sonar technology and a unique drilling device, will be scanning for diamonds on the seabed off the coast of Namibia, according to the De Beers Group.
“We’re particularly pleased with the technology on board, which is all bespoke to De Beers. It explores the targeted areas and defines those areas where there are better grades of diamonds,” says De Beers chief executive Bruce Cleaver.
The new vessel, which is a joint venture between De Beers and the government of Namibia, is named after the country’s founding President Dr. Sam Shafiishuna Nujoma who was present at the inauguration ceremony alongside the current Prime Minister of Namibia, Saara Kuugongelwa, in Walvis Bay, Namibia, Thursday.
Undersea Diamond Mining
De Beers, which is majority-owned by FTSE 100 Company Anglo American, is the only mining firm in the world with the capacity to scan for diamonds on the seabed. It has the capability to reach depths of up to 140 meters.
With the new vessel, the company will be able to probe the seabed and take samples more quickly and efficiently.
However, some experts and conservationists have raised concerns about the kind of impact the 12,000-tonne vessel will have on Namibia’s marine life. They worry that continued off-shore mining within the country’s coastal region is likely to have a serious impact on the coastal environment.
They also argue that the mining of diamonds along the Namibian coast has been and continues to be an environmentally invasive activity, causing the degradation of landscapes, the destruction of habitats, and the pollution of groundwater.
Cleaver insists, though, that sustainable mining is at the core of the company’s operations, adding that their operations in Namibia are concentrated in an area with no commercial fishing and little marine life.
“We have a license to mine 6,000 square miles – we will only have mined 3pc of that by 2020,” Cleaver added.
The company, through its Namibian subsidiary Debmarine Namibia, has been in Namibia since 2002, producing around 1.2 million carats in 2016.
Namibian diamonds are some of the most valuable in the world.