Diamond miner counts losses

On Wednesday last week, a ship carrying the dredge in dismantled parts was caught in bad weather in the stormy South African coast off Durban port dealing a body blow to the company’s operations.

Namdeb, a 50-50 joint venture between the Namibian government and global diamond mining giant, De Beers said the cost of the loss of 70 percent of the vessel, which would have been commissioned a week ago, was collosal.

Hilifa Mbako, Namdeb’s group manager external and corporate affairs refused to disclose when the ship would be operational but said that the diamond firm’s operations had been set back by three months.

The dredge, which had been dubbed /Gaeb, which means Oryx in Namibian Nama language met its fate enroute from Port Klang, Malaysia where it had been built to the Pocket beaches, Namdeb’s operation near the coastal town of Luderitz.

“We are now three months behind schedule is all I can say at this moment and we are still assessing the impact in terms of production lost and the cost of bringing the vessel back into operation,” Mbako told The Southern Times.

The dredge was to be used to mine diamonds at Namdeb’s mines situated in Pocket Areas 11 and 12 along the Orange River.

Hilifa last week said that the dredge could have recovered approximately 14 millions of ore over a period of two years starting this November.

“This delay will have an adverse impact on the project. The project team together with the supplying company are working at all options to handle the loss of production caused by this loss,” Mbako said.

Dredging, a method used to search for alluvial diamond deposits, was determined to be the most economical method of moving large quantities of wet material with a diesel-powered unit.

Namdeb said that this dredge had been a CSD500SD cutter section equipped with a rotating cutter head attached to the adjustable suction entry unit called the ladder.

The cutter is meant to enhance the efficiency of the dredge pumps by mechanically activating the material, thus allowing the dredge pump to recover fluidised material at an average density of approximately 1 275 kg/m3 at a rate of approximately 4 500 m3 per hectare.

Meanwhile Canadian listed gem miner Diamond Fields International this week announced that its vessel, DF Discoverer would be resuming mining operations in Luderitz before the end of October.

DFI said that the vessel would be returning to Namibia to resume mining in late October following completion of engineering work on the dredge.

The diamond firm is running a joint venture with De Beers Marine offshore of Luderitz.

DFI said that diamonds have been discovered from 61 percent of samples.

October 2006
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