Diamonds are forever

Information on NAMDEB, De Beers Marine and diamond mining in Namibia.

De Beers Marine. De Beers Marine is the wholly owned subsidiary of the De Beers Group of Companies. The company represents a significant technological advance on the 1960 mining and dredging operations. Before it was only possible to mine up to water depth of 30 to 35 metres. When marine exploration and prospecting revealed large low-grade diamond bearing deposits on the continental shelf the technique for economical exploration of depths up to 100 metres has been developed. The techniques consist of offshore technology together with new innovative ideas pioneered by De Beers' own team of highly qualified professionals. Two basic methods are used for diamond retrieval: drilling and crawling.

De Beers Marine owns a fleet of vessels for diamond exploration and processing.
Mining: Diamond Area 1. The area consists of an ore body which stretches for more than  100 kilometres and is made up of number of raised beaches along the coast. The diamonds are mostly found in beach sand or shelf gravel upon bedrock. Most of this area is covered with deposited marine sand which called ''overburden'' and must be removed first. This process of removal is done using bucket-wheel excavators. Removed ''overburden'' then used to build sea walls which allows to work below sea level.
Most of the ore removed mechanically with dozers. Where necessary it is followed by a final cleaning operation with hydraulic shovels and large industrial vacuum machines. The ore then transported to treatment plants where it is crushed and separated which yield the final product - diamonds.
Mining: Auchas mine. The mine started production in 1990 and treats ore from the 17 million years old river gravels of the Orange river. The operations are carried out according to open pit mining techniques. Ore is excavated using mass excavators, face shovels and tracks with drilling. Screening technology has been introduced recently. Screened ore transported to main plant and after washing, concentrating, screening and final separation the final product is released.
Mining: Elizabeth Bay. The present day Elizabeth Bay mine which is a commercial open cast operation began production in 1991.
At the beginning economically viable diamond deposits were identified in the area prior to the establishing of the Consolidated Mines of South West Africa Limited but the mine was closed down during Great Depression of 1930's. Small-scale operations between 1945 and 1948 produced almost 23 000 carats.
After further evaluation and exploration large-scale mining operations were re-established. Mining at Elizabeth Bay is carried by using surface mining methods. After removal of sand the ore body is excavated using mechanical excavations and tracks.
Mining: small contractors. This type of mining operations has been developed in the areas where the large-scale operations proved to be uneconomical and used for mining small claims. Small contracting has been also proved to be productive and good source of job opportunities especially in Luderitz area. The following four types of small contracting has been developed since beginning of the program:
1. Dry or wet screening plant and concentrating works treating beach gravels mined on stone;
2. Drivers working with land based compressed air lines which suction up gravel screened and concentrated on land;
3. Small vessel drivers with suction hoses to mine in depth between 10 and 30 metres. Gravel concentrated on shore;
4. Large production vessels carrying separation plants and small x-ray units on board. Produce final diamond product.

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Related: ''Sedina'' schooner tours from Luderitz, 4x4 tours from Luderitz

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