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De Beers approves custom built diamond recovery vessel for Namibia

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The Debmar Atlantic, moored some 35 kilometers off the Namibian Coastline.

Anglo American has announced the approval by Debmarine Namibia, a 50:50 joint venture between De Beers Group and the Government of the Republic of Namibia, of the construction of a new custom built diamond recovery vessel.

At an expected total capital cost of $468mn ($234mn attributable to Anglo American), this new vessel will follow SS Nujoma and become the seventh in the Debmarine Namibia fleet, expected to begin production in 2022 with the capacity to add 500,000 carats of annual production, a 35% increase above Debmarine Namibia’s current levels.

Mark Cutifani, Chief Executive of De Beers parent company Anglo American, commented: “The addition of this custom-built vessel for the Debmarine Namibia joint venture will bring numerous benefits – in terms of De Beers’ production profile by value and volume, the technologies that can be deployed from the outset to deliver greater efficiency and productivity, and sustained economic benefits for Namibia.”

Bruce Cleaver, CEO of De Beers Group, explained: “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.”

Cutifani added: “We will continue allocating appropriate levels of capital in a disciplined manner across Anglo American’s wider organic pipeline of near- and medium-term growth opportunities, including the world-class Quellaveco copper development in Peru, that we expect to contribute towards our 20-25% production growth by 2023.”

Debmarine Namibia is the only company in the world to mine diamonds offshore. It produced around 1.2 million carats in 2016. Mining of Namibia’s diamonds, some of the most valuable in the world, is carried out as much as 140 metres below sea level.

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