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Construction begins on De Beers offshore mining vessel

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Damen Shipyards Group have announced that they have begun construction on a new crawler offshore diamond recovery vessel for De Beers Marine Namibia.

The new vessel will be larger than the SS Nujoma which is already part of De Beers Marine Namibia's fleet, mining for diamonds off the Namibian coast
(The vessel will join the fleet along with the SS Nujoma - Image via De Beers)

The MT 6027 is said to be one of the most technologically advanced marine diamond recovery vessels in the world, with over $468 million dollars being invested into its design.

It will be the seventh of De Beers Marine Namibia’s vessels that uses hi-tech surveying equipment to mine high-quality diamonds from the ocean floor and, at a length of 177 metres (577ft), will be the largest of the fleet. 

Existing vessels include the 113m long, 12,000 tonne MV SS Nujoma and the 174 metre long Mafuta.

The new vessel will be the seventh addition to the fleet, adding around 500,000 carats of annual production
(The SS Nujoma mining vessel - Image via De Beers)

Offshore diamond mining is a relatively new industry, with De Beers Marine Namibia beginning operations in 2002. In 2017 the company produced 1.378 million carats of diamonds. By adding the MT 6027 to the fleet, they hope to increase capacity by 500,000 carats of annual production.

It will be constructed from a Marin Teknikk design, and will use a dynamic positioning system (DP2) based on a seven-thruster propulsion system powered by six generators, each with 3230 eKW.

The project will be the first construction project Damen have undertaken for De Beers Marine Namibia, with the work set to begin at their shipyard in Mangalia, Romania. On completion, the vessel will sail on its own keel to Cape Town, South Africa for integration of the mission equipment. 

“We were already well aware of Damen’s reputation as a reliable, efficient shipbuilder and we are pleased to contract Damen to build this vessel for us after successfully winning a Global Tender for the construction of the vessel,” said Michael Curtis, head of the Addition Mining Vessel 3 Project for De Beers Marine.

“De Beers Marine (South Africa) will construct the mission equipment, comprising of a subsea crawler and diamond recovery plant, in South Africa in parallel to the vessel construction. Once the vessel is delivered by Damen, it will be sailed to South Africa where the mission equipment will be integrated into the vessel by De Beers Marine. Given the parallel path and complexity of the project, it is critical to work with the best shipbuilders who have a reputation for performance and on-time delivery.”

The vessel is due to begin diamond production in Q2 2022.

A steel-cutting ceremony marked the beginning of construction
(Image via Damen)

The beginning of construction was marked with a steel cutting ceremony at the shipyard.

“This week we reached a first milestone: steel cutting. We are looking forward to the construction of this vessel, a challenging project I’m convinced Damen, with its extensive expertise and knowledgeable personnel, will successfully deliver on time,” said Ruud van der Stroom, Damen’s offshore sales director.

“So far, Damen’s newbuild focus has mainly been on standardisation and in-house or own design vessels, along with various types of support and services vessels built for the offshore market.

“However, the facilities in Mangalia allow us to respond positively to De Beers Marine Namibia’s newbuild enquiry: an engineered-to-order project with vessel dimensions beyond that build by Damen ever before.”

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Construction begins on De Beers offshore mining vessel - Time to read 3 min
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