Sperrgebiet Diamond Mining (Pty) Ltd, which plans to start mining at the Elizabeth Mine near Luderitz in this fourth quarter, plans an initial production of 240 000 carats per annum before reaching about 360 000 carats, General Manager Paul Lombard said in an interview. The Elizabeth Bay Mine was formerly owned by Namdeb Holdings.
“We’ll be constructing an Infield Pre-Treatment Facility by mid-next year which will aim at removing the majority of fine non-diamond bearing material and clay from the ore to be presented to the Main Treatment Plant, this will not only improve the throughput and concentration of the ore but also ensure that we can treat wet and clay rich material with higher plant availability. We’re aiming to double production over time, but the first step will be achieved by mid-2023,” said Lombard.
He said Sperrgebiet Diamond Mining said for starters, the company has already invested N$150 million and will still invest more than double this during the next 12 months.
Lombard said 60 workers are currently employed to be increased to 130 employees by the end of the year.
“Over and above our employees, our contractor numbers will be up to about 180 by the end of the year consisting of Lewcor’s 150, maintenance contractors 30 therefore there will be 300 people on site by end of the year 2022.”
Talking about the impact of the resumption of mining on the town of Luderitz, Lombard said direct impact on the local economy will come through local spending, accommodation requirements, schools, medical requirements among others. The direct impact will come through PAYE, royalties and other. taxes.
Lombard said mining operations will not differ from that of Namdeb, which previously owned the mine albeit with the addition of Infield Scalping (mobile in the beginning until the Infield plant has been constructed). He said this will allow for much higher plant availability which previously was a major contributor to plant down-time.
“We also opened the mining process for a country-wide tender to ensure that we get the optimal cost level for our mining requirements, also with the option to upscale or change over to owner operated mining operations if deemed more cost effective in the long run. The cost levels are furthermore affected by the volumes and therefore the strategy to materially increase throughput, but also with a strong focus on optimizing input costs.”
Lombard said water consumption is a major driver of costs due to the pumping and therefore electricity requirements. “We have relooked at the power requirements of the plant by redesigning a new process water intake and a new fine tailings disposal setup which will reduce power costs materially. We also implemented a flat and fit for purpose organizational structure structured around the requirements of the resource and production requirements with a more ‘junior-miner’ outlook versus the conventional corporate structures. “
He said Sperrgebiet has come up with a fit for purpose cost model that the mine can afford. He said the key differentiator over and above its cost model, will be its route to market strategy. “We believe dealing directly with the mid-stream in the Diamond District in Antwerp will return a much-preferred price book for our high quality smalls that we’ll be delivering to the market.”
The company is employing a mining contractor who will be providing the required equipment. Lombard said the mine will be utilizing a mix of Articulated Dump Trucks for the mining process and On-Highway trucks for hauling purposes.
“In terms of the processing plant, we’ve recommissioned the plant and refurbished key components such as the secondary tipping bin feeder, primary scrubber units, tertiary crushers, the dense medium separator and the tailings dump conveyor system. We have also refurbished all mobile equipment and will be procuring a heavy lift mobile crane.”
Namdeb announced in September 2019 that it sold its Elizabeth Bay Mine and its associated marine assets as a going concern to a member of the Lewcor Group, which is a 100% Namibian-owned Consortium. Namdeb said at that time that it could no longer economically run the operation.
The transaction had a value of N$120 million to Namdeb, with potential upside to N$180 million, depending on a number of factors.