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Diamond mining flagship on route to Cape Town

Diamond mining flagship on route to Cape Town

Niël Terblanché


THE world’s largest diamond recovery vessel set sail on its maiden voyage from Mangalia in Romania to the port of Cape Town, where it will be outfitted with specialised mining equipment before it can become the flagship of Namibia’s diamond mining vessel fleet.


According to a statement issued by Debmarine Namibia, the vessel is scheduled to start with mining operations off the country’s south coast early next year.


The new generation mining vessel, currently known as the Additional Mining Vessel number three (AMV3), is 177 metres long and will be used as the mothership of a subsea crawler that will extract diamond bearing material from the sea bottom and is expected to be in operation for at least 30 years.


mining flagship Cape Town diamond vessel sail Mangalia Romania Cape Town
NEW FLAGSHIP: An architect’s rendering of what the AMV3 will look like once it is fully outfitted with all the necessary mining and recovery equipment. – Photo: Courtesy of Debmarine Namibia


Built at a cost of N$7 billion, the ship represents the largest ever investment in global history of marine diamond recovery.


The giant mining vessel was delivered to Debmarine Namibia at the Damen Shipyards situated in Mangalia in Romania before it set sail for Cape Town three weeks ago.


According to the statement, the building process involved many challenges, ranging from the onset of COVID-19 early in the project to the management of many subcontractors, each contributing their specialist skills and products.


Engineering challenges included the installation of a second-generation dynamic positioning (DP2) system based on a seven-thruster propulsion system, powered by six generators to enable greater flexibility in the vessel’s operations.


Project management was undertaken by De Beers Marine South Africa (Pty) Ltd.


With the constraints of COVID-19, Damen also undertook the complete commissioning process, implementing incremental ways of working to ensure that it was all completed on time.


“This marks a significant milestone in the Debmarine Namibia calendar and our country Namibia, as we witness the completion of the vessel, a significant phase that represents the largest ever single investment in the history of marine diamond recovery. We keenly await the arrival of this asset to join the rest of the fleet to recover marine diamonds safely and sustainably, whilst building a lasting positive legacy for Namibia.” said Willy Mertens, Chief Financial Officer of Debmarine Namibia, during the delivery ceremony.


The successful delivery marks the end of a landmark project that began more than two years ago.


The AMV3 will be renamed upon commissioning in 2022.


The new vessel is expected to add 500 000 carats to Debmarine Namibia’s production annually.


This annual production figure is anticipated to add about N$2 billion to state coffers through taxes and royalties.


Debmarine Namibia earlier stated that the new vessel will eventually create more than 160 new jobs.


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