De Beers launched the world’s largest diamond-exploration ship on Thursday, as it looks to Namibian waters to maintain production levels.
The mv SS Nujoma cost $157 million to build and will allow Debmarine Namibia, De Beers’ joint venture with the Namibian government, to secure the country's diamond supply “well into the future,” the miner said in a statement. The ship will enable Debmarine to maintain its current annual rough-diamond production rate of 1.2 million carats up until 2035, Reuters reported.
Of Debmarine’s six ships, the mv SS Nujoma is the first to be dedicated to exploration and sampling. The vessel uses technologies that enable it to take larger samples than any other, and at a faster rate, De Beers said. The craft will mine diamonds at around 120 meters to 140 meters below sea level at double the speed of its predecessor, De Beers explained.
Marine diamonds are generally more valuable than land-based stones because lower-quality gems are washed away by waves, Reuters said.
“Offshore diamond mining is becoming increasingly important in meeting global demand for diamonds as many of the major onshore deposits have now been discovered,” said De Beers CEO Bruce Cleaver. “The mv SS Nujoma will allow even more of Namibia’s high-quality offshore diamonds to be discovered and mined, ensuring a strong future for Namibia’s diamond industry, as well as the global diamond market.”
The 12,000-tonne ship, 113 meters long, has created 140 jobs, the vast majority of which have been filled by Namibians. It has a crew of 80 and a helicopter deck suitable for Sikorsky S61s. The vessel is named for Sam Nujoma, Namibia’s first president.