DEBMARINE Namibia's brand new diamond recovery vessel, valued at about N$7 billion, left Romania last week, beginning its month-long maiden voyage to Cape Town, the company has announced.
The ship was officially handed over to Debmarine Namibia on 18 August at Damen Shipyards at the Romanian port of Mangalia.
Once at Cape Town, the additional mining vessel (AMV3), as it is technically known, will be fitted with mission equipment before beginning operations off the coast of Namibia early next year, a company statement read.
At 177 metres, the AMV3 is the largest diamond recovery vessel in the world (three metres longer than Debmarine's current largest vessel, Mafuta). It will also be the most technologically advanced marine diamond recovery vessel in the world, featuring a dynamic positioning system based on a seven-thruster propulsion system powered by six generators.
The company said AMV3 will be its "new flagship" and is expected to operate for at least 30 years.
Speaking at the handover ceremony, Debmarine Namibia chief financial officer Willy Mertens said the event marked a significant milestone in the company and Namibia's calendar.
"The completion of the vessel is a significant phase that represents the largest 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, while building a lasting positive legacy for Namibia," said Mertens.
In 2019, The Namibian reported that several major banks had joined hands with Debmarine, which is a 50/50 joint venture between the government and the De Beers Group, to finance the construction of a custom-made vessel, considered to be the biggest single investment in the Namibian mining industry, and the biggest in the world's marine diamond mining sector.
The AMV3 will use sub-sea crawling extraction techniques to retrieve diamonds from the seabed. These will then be processed on board.
According to the company statement, the building of the vessel 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.
"With the constraints of Covid, Damen also undertook the complete commissioning process, implementing incremental ways of working to ensure that it was all completed on time," it stated.
The project, which started about two years ago, was managed by De Beers Marine South Africa.
The vessel will be Debmarine's seventh member of its fleet and is expected to add some 500 000 carats annually to the company's diamond production. The vessel is also expected to create more than 160 jobs.