Debmarine Namibia’s annual production will increase by 45 percent thanks to the custom-built vessel.
At an inauguration ceremony in Namibia, De Beers unveiled its new diamond recovery vessel.
According to the company, the ship, dubbed the “Benguela Gem,” will begin operations this week, ahead of schedule.
It’s the newest addition to Debmarine Namibia’s fleet, which recovers diamonds from the ocean’s depths.
Debmarine Namibia’s annual production will increase by 45 percent, adding 500,000 carats of high-value diamonds, thanks to the custom-built vessel, which cost more than $420 million. It will also provide 160 jobs for Namibians, according to De Beers.
Debmarine Namibia is a subsidiary of Namdeb Holdings and is a 50/50 joint venture between De Beers Group and the Government of the Republic of Namibia.
In 2021, Debmarine Namibia recovered around 1.1 million carats of rough diamonds while Namdeb Holdings’ total production totaled about 1.5 million carats.
Namibian diamonds garner some of the world’s highest average prices per carat, said De Beers.
Diamond recovery by Debmarine Namibia is the single biggest contributor to the country’s economy, said De Beers, adding that the partnership contributes more than 10 billion Namibian dollars (about $626 million) in revenue to Namibia annually.
“In a world where there is global competition for capital, and where capital has become increasingly mobile, it is most pleasing to see that we are able to witness the fruits of this fantastic investment,” said Tom Alweendo, Namibia’s minister of mines and energy, in a press release about the new vessel.
“The investment in this vessel is not just an investment in a diamond recovery vessel. It is an investment in the future of Namibia.”
The vessel, which took two years to build, was an international effort.
Designed in Norway and Poland, it was built in Romania and fitted with equipment by De Beers Marine South Africa.
De Beers said the ship’s state-of-the-art dynamic positioning system optimizes its performance in changing weather conditions to minimize energy use. It also generates fresh water through its heat recovery systems and a reverse osmosis plant.
“The Benguela Gem is the first of its kind and represents an outstanding feat of engineering design, technology innovation and sustainability performance,” said De Beers Group CEO Bruce Cleaver.
“Despite significant challenges presented by COVID-19, the project was delivered ahead of time and budget, a testament to the world-leading skill and expertise of all involved. The investment in this vessel will support a long-term, sustainable future for Namibia’s diamond sector, which is home to some [of] the most sought-after diamonds in the world.”
The vessel’s crew will also have access to entertainment systems, a gym, a hospital, and other relaxation facilities, which have been built into the vessel’s design.