Windhoek — Namdeb Holdings Ltd has confirmed that it is seeking a buyer for its Elizabeth Bay mine operations to secure the long-term future of the mine. Namdeb, which is a 50/50 joint venture between the government and the De Beers Group, commissioned the mine in 1991 that in 2017 produced around 200,000 carats.
The Elizabeth Bay mine is located along the southern coast near Lüderitz and employs about 160 people. The mine has contributed significantly over the years to the local economy of Lüderitz, particularly in providing high quality jobs for the community.
Following the 2009 economic downturn the mine was put on care and maintenance. In 2011, operations were restarted through the implementation of the Elizabeth Bay optimisation project, which at the time projected a four-year life of mine to 2014. However, continuous innovation ensured that the mine has continued to operate well beyond this time, with a current life of mine extending to 2019.
Following a recent review, it was concluded that the best way to secure a longer future for the mine, beyond the current projected 2019, is to find a more suitable low-cost operator that could allow the mine to continue to contribute to Namibia and Lüderitz through continued employment and economic activities.
"Elizabeth Bay mine continues to play an important role in the development of Namibia's diamond industry, so we have not taken this decision lightly. We are constantly reviewing new mining opportunities. As this mine nears the end of its current life, we are focused on finding a buyer that can sustain operations beyond 2019, protect jobs and contribute sustainably to the Namibian economy," said Namdeb's chief executive officer Riaan Burger.
Recent reports indicated that Namdeb would gradually cease land-based operations, starting with Elizabeth Bay mine end of this year, Daberas at the end of 2019, Sendelingsdrift in 2020 and the main one, Southern Coastal, in 2022. Diamonds generate about 20 percent of Namibia's foreign export earnings.
While Namdeb's onshore diamond production continues to dwindle, the offshore operations are doing extremely well, with new marine vessels playing a major role in ensuring the profitability and sustainability of the company's marine mining activities.
During the first half of 2017 the group's global rough diamond production increased by 21 percent to 16.1 million carats, which was in line with the higher production forecast for 2017. The half-year diamond production for 2016 stood at 13.3 million carats.
De Beers is a member of the Anglo-American plc group which was established in 1888 and is the world's leading diamond company with expertise in the exploration, mining and marketing of diamonds. Together with its joint venture partners, De Beers employs more than 20,000 people across the diamond pipeline and is the world's largest diamond producer by value, with mining operations in Botswana, Canada, Namibia and South Africa.