Benguela Gem to intensify marine diamond mining

Tujoromajo Kasuto

The Benguela Gem, the world’s most modern diamond recovery vessel, was officially unveiled in Namibia at the weekend in front of President Hage Geingob, Minister of Mines and Energy Tom Alweendo, and De Beers Group CEO Bruce Cleaver.

The vessel will increase Debmarine’s yearly production by 500,000 high-value carats of diamonds and create 160 jobs for Namibians, putting the diamond mining industry in supercar driving gear.

The vessel will begin operations immediately far ahead of schedule. The MV Benguela Gem was built specifically to recover diamonds from the Atlantic Ocean seabed. The vessel combines the best of offshore vessel technology with 30 years of #DebmarineNamibia’s unique marine diamond knowledge.

The mining sector continues to be a substantial contributor to GDP, accounting for an average of 10% of GDP since 1990, according to the National Planning Commission (NPC).

According to President Geingob, the mining sector’s contribution to GDP has increased since 2012 due to the addition of new mines that have begun operations, culminating in a 14 percent contribution to GDP in 2018 – its highest point ever.

Despite commodity price fluctuations caused by economic downturns and the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic in recent years, Geingob says he is certain that Namibia’s mining sector has a bright future and will continue to contribute to the country’s development goals.

The custom-built vessel was constructed at a cost of US$420 million.

Debmarine Namibia is a 50/50 joint venture between the De Beers Group and the Namibian government. The Benguela Gem joins Debmarine Namibia’s world-class fleet, which is responsible for recovering some of the world’s best gems.

The Benguela Gem was developed in Norway and Poland, built in Romania, and outfitted with De Beers Marine South Africa’s exclusive mission equipment. It took two years to build and is the world’s most technologically advanced diamond recovery vessel, with high standards of sustainability and safety performance.

The vessel combines cutting-edge technology with a completely integrated design for unsurpassed efficiency, dependability, and accuracy.

To save energy, a cutting-edge dynamic positioning technology automatically optimizes the vessel’s performance under changing weather conditions.

Through the utilization of heat recovery equipment and a reverse osmosis plant, the vessel also generates its own fresh water. The vessel’s design prioritized employee well-being, with crew members having access to entertainment systems, a gym, a hospital, and leisure amenities.

The additional 500,000 high-value carats to be recovered by Benguela Gem will be added to the more than N$10 billion in revenue delivered to Namibia each year by the De Beers Group and the Namibian government.

“It is really pleasant to see that we are able to observe the rewards of this tremendous investment in a world where there is global competition for capital and capital has become increasingly mobile,” Minister Alweendo remarked at the event.

He added that this isn’t simply a diamond recovery vessel as it’s an investment in the future of the industry. “It’s an investment in Namibia’s future.”

“As we gather here for the inauguration of this new vessel, just days before Namibia celebrates its 32nd year of independence, bear witness that we at Debmarine Namibia will continue to make our stakeholders proud by delivering real value for both our shareholders and the people of Namibia,” said Otto Shikongo, CEO of Debmarine Namibia.

“The Benguela Gem is the first of its kind,” De Beers Group CEO Bruce Cleaver remarked. “It is a remarkable feat of engineering design, technological innovation, and environmental performance.”

Despite the enormous challenges faced by Covid-19, the project was completed on time and on budget, proving everyone involved world-class talent and experience. The investment in this vessel will safeguard the long-term viability of Namibia’s diamond industry.

The Namibian economy is predicted to improve this year and through 2023, following a modest rebound in 2021.

Improved growth in the mining industry and most tertiary industries will help it perform better. Diamond mining is likely to develop significantly in 2022 and 2023, according to the Bank of Namibia’s February economic forecast report, with the new mining vessel and is predicted to grow by 26.2 percent this year and 16.5 percent in 2023.




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