Anglo American plc on Thursday announced the approval by Debmarine Namibia of the construction of a new custom-built diamond recovery vessel. File picture: Stefan Wermuth.

JOHANNESBURG - Anglo American plc on Thursday announced the approval by Debmarine Namibia of the construction of a new custom-built diamond recovery vessel at a total capital cost of $468 million.

Debmarine Namibia is a 50:50 joint venture between Anglo American's diamond miner De Beers and the Namibian government. Some of the highest quality diamonds in the world are found at sea off the Namibian coast.

Some $234 million of the capital cost of the new vessel will be attributable to Anglo American.

Anglo American chief executive Mark Cutifani said it would be the seventh vessel in the Debmarine Namibia fleet and was expected to begin production in 2022, with the capacity to add 500,000 carats of annual production, a 35 percent increase from Debmarine Namibia's current levels. 

"The addition of this custom-built vessel for the Debmarine Namibia joint venture will bring numerous benefits – in terms of De Beers' production profile by value and volume, the technologies that can be deployed from the outset to deliver greater efficiency and productivity, and sustained economic benefits for Namibia," Cutifani said.

Bruce Cleaver, De Beers Group chief executive, said the company would be able to optimize new technology to find and recover diamonds more efficiently and meet growing consumer demand across the globe with this investment.  

"This highly attractive investment offers a three-year payback, a more than 25 percent internal rate of return and an EBITDA margin of more than 60 percent – typical of the high quality of our brownfield growth options," he said.

"We will continue allocating appropriate levels of capital in a disciplined manner across Anglo American’s wider organic pipeline of near- and medium-term growth opportunities, including the world-class Quellaveco copper development in Peru, that we expect to contribute towards our 20-25 percent production growth by 2023."

African News Agency (ANA)