Five African commercial banks have partnered in a $375 million (R5.4 billion) financing deal to build a new diamond mining vessel for De Beers.
Reuters reported that Nedbank Namibia, RMB Namibia, Standard Bank, ABSA and Bank Windhoek have agreed to provide 80% of the funding for the ship, which will be the world’s largest of its type.
Debmarine Namibia – a 50-50 joint venture company between De Beers and the government of Namibia – will provide the balance of $94 million.
De Beers said that the ship will become the seventh vessel in the Debmarine Namibia fleet and is scheduled to commence operations in 2022.
In 2017 Debmarine Namibia launched a $157 million deepwater diamond exploration and sampling vessel – called the motor vessel SS Nujoma.
On completion, the vessel is expected to add 500,000 carats annually to Debmarine Namibia’s production, an increase of approximately 35% on current production.
“Some of the highest quality diamonds in the world are found at sea off the Namibian coast,” said Bruce Cleaver, CEO of the De Beers Group.
“With this investment, we will be able to optimise new technology to find and recover diamonds more efficiently and meet growing consumer demand across the globe.
“The new vessel is expected to create more than 160 new jobs alongside Debmarine Namibia’s current workforce of 975 employees.”