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A new Debmarine vessel is being built
A new Debmarine vessel is being built

DeBeers expands marine mining

Leading diamond producer De Beers is expanding its marine diamond recovery fleet – which is owned and operated in partnership with the Namibian government – by building a new custom vessel.

The US$468 million ship is a world-first and “represents the largest-ever single investment in the marine diamond industry” according to the company.

It is expected to be operational by 2022 and will add an estimated 50,000 carats to Debmarine’s production, an increase of 35 per cent.

Bruce Cleaver, CEO De Beers Group, said in a press release, “Some of the highest quality diamonds in the world are found at sea off the Namibian coast.”

“With this investment we will be able to optimise new technology to find and recover diamonds more efficiently and meet growing consumer demand across the globe.”

The Debmarine Namibia project was set up in 2002 in order to mine diamonds from the ocean floor. It currently has five mining vessels and one exploration and sampling vessel, and employs 975 people.

However, it’s not entirely good news for De Beers. The company’s most recent rough diamond sales report, published on 21 May, showed totals of US$415 million for this cycle – a drop of US$166 million compared to the previous cycle.

De Beers releases 10 sales reports a year, which combine the totals for global sight-holder sales and auction sales.

While this time of year is usually slow in the diamond trade, sales were also down 25 per cent when compared with the same period in 2018. It is De Beers’ worst sales result since the first quarter of 2017.

Cleaver attributed the weak result to “macroeconomic uncertainty” and the closing of Indian factories for the holiday period.

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Tuesday, 15 October, 2019 05:11pm
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