De Beers And Namibia Partner on New $468 Million Diamond Recovery Vessel

May 28, 2019

At times people question why diamonds are valuable.  They make the claim that diamonds are not rare and that diamond prices are artificially high.  When we look at the money and time that are invested into extracting diamonds from Mother Earth, we begin to understand that diamonds are rare and valuable.

Debmarine announced it will be investing $468 million on the world's first ever custom built diamond recovery vessel. When it joins the Debmarine fleet in 2022, the new ship will have the capacity to extract 500,000 carats annually from the coastal waters off Namibia; boosting the country's annual diamond output by 35%.  While 500,000 carats is significant, it should be remembered that will be 500,000 carats of rough diamonds. Even if all of the diamonds are gem quality (and not industrial grade diamonds) the yield will be roughly 250,000 carats of polished diamonds.  If you read on you will learn that De Beers does expect a very high percentage of gem quality diamonds from this venture.

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Debmarine is a 50/50 joint venture between the Republic of Namibia and the De Beers Group, and each partner will contribute $234 million to the project.

The new ship, which will be the seventh in Debmarine's diamond fleet, will comb the ocean floor at a depth of 400 feet using advanced drilling technology, supported with tracking, positioning and surveying equipment. Dredged gravel will be sifted at treatment plants onboard the ship.

Sophisticated X-ray machines and other diamond sorting devices separate the gems from the gravel, and leftover material is returned to the sea bed. Recovered diamonds are securely sealed in containers, loaded into steel briefcases and flown by helicopter to shore.

“Some of the highest quality diamonds in the world are found at sea, off the Namibian coast,” said De Beers CEO Bruce Cleaver. “With this investment, we will be able to optimize new technology to find and recover diamonds more efficiently and meet growing consumer demand across the globe.”

According to De Beers, 95% of the diamonds pulled from the seabed near Namibia are of gem quality. This compares to just 20% of gem quality diamonds coming from De Beers’s top mine in Botswana. Some experts surmise that the diamonds in the ocean have endured such a pounding for so long that only the gem quality ones could remain intact.

Namibia has more than 3,700 square miles of marine diamond concessions along its southwest coast, which is expected to support the industry for the next 50 years. Debmarine has a license to operate off the coast of the African country until 2035 within a 2,316-square mile area.

Credit: Image courtesy of Debmarine-Namibia.

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