Tag Archives: seabed mining

De Beers Hoovers Up Its Best Diamonds From the African Seabed

Photographs by Simon Dawson/Bloomberg

Kevin Crowley and Julius Domoney | Bloomberg | July 11, 2017

For years oil was the big commodity found offshore. These days diamond giant De Beers finds some of its most valuable gems on the Atlantic Ocean seabed off the coast of Namibia.

They are literally vacuuming them off the ocean floor.

The world’s biggest diamond producer has spent $157 million on a state-of-the-art exploration vessel that will scour 6,000 square kilometers (2,300 square miles) of ocean floor for gems, an area about 65 percent bigger than Long Island. The Anglo American Plc unit mines in the area in a 50-50 joint venture with the Namibian government.

The vessel will scan and sample the seabed to identify the most profitable areas for the ships, which suck up diamonds before they’re flown by helicopter to shore. The investment will help the company maintain annual production of at least 1.2 million carats for the next 20 years, Chief Executive Officer Bruce Cleaver said in an interview. Those stones are “very important to our global mix and to our customers who are looking for higher-value diamonds,” Cleaver said.

Namibia’s diamonds, which have been washed down the Orange River from South Africa over millions of years and deposited in the ocean, are key to De Beers because of their high quality. While not the biggest, the gems have few flaws after being broken from larger stones on their way to the sea bed. Only the strong and good quality ones survive, Cleaver said.

De Beers’s Namibian unit sold its diamonds for $528 a carat last year, much higher than the $187 average for the whole company’s stones and accounting for about 13 percent of total earnings.

The giant subsea “crawler” tractor is lowered into the ocean from the deck of the Mafuta.

De Beers finds some of its most valuable diamonds on the Atlantic Ocean seabed.

The Mafuta exploration vessel dredges the seabed at depths of around 150 meters off the Namibian coast.


Leave a comment

Filed under Financial returns

Pundari defends Papua New Guinea undersea mine

Papua New Guinea’s Mining Minister, John Pundari, has called on Australian Federal Green leader, Bob Brown, to respect the decision of the PNG government in permitting the Solwara 1 offshore mining project and to refrain from making public comments on a subject matter that is sensitive.

Pundari said yesterday in a media statement the issue was being discussed by the various stakeholders including the national and provincial governments and the respective communities.

“I detest the fact that an Australian politician sees fit to immerse himself in matters that are far from his own jurisdiction with the intent of undermining the decision of legitimate government”

“We would appreciate that this matter is raised in discussion at a government to government level and not for someone like Brown to be playing politics with a time when he is launching his sister political party in PNG leading up to the 2012 national elections.”

The minister stressed that the granting of the Solwara 1 project was legally executed under the existing Mining Act 1992.
A review of the current legislation and policy was being earmarked and will be completed before the end of the year including specific consideration for the offshore seabed mining environment.

“As a sovereign state, the government has permitted the offshore deep-sea exploration for the past 10 years leading up to the granting of a mining permit early this year.
These are activities permitted by PNG’s mining, environment, business and other relevant laws”

Pundari said he was interested in discussing the prospect for any specialist assistance the Australian government could give to PNG’s respective agencies to assist the government in regulating the new frontier of offshore mining.

Leave a comment

Filed under Environmental impact, Human rights, Papua New Guinea

Lawyer warns PNG government on seabed mining


A SENIOR lawyer has warned that the Government must be very careful in its handling of the world’s first offshore mining project in the country, the Solwara 1 project.

Senior lawyer Moses Murray, who may also be the only Papua New Guinean lawyer that has studied Seabed law, raised this concern saying there is yet to be a proven technological know-how for marine mineral exploration where developing and developed countries are yet to experiment on and PNG might be a guinea pig in this project.

He raised these concerns after Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare announced that Cabinet has made a decision to approve the arrangement for the State to take up 30 per cent equity in the Solwara 1 project.

Let us not be blind by the kind of money to be generated and ask ourselves if we are ready to take control of such an adventure or is owning 30 per cent of the profit good for PNG as a whole. Can we not wait and check this out carefully first.

Is there a country or mining company in the world that has successfully mined the ocean sea bed? Or is PNG a guinea pig in this exercise that has inflated our minds with big bucks and generate employment. What about the negative effects that would be borne on the sea life which in turn will affect the people closer to the sea bed mining?” he asked.

Mr Murray said the international situation on marine mineral exploration at present is unstable, and because of the importance of detailed knowledge of the processes regarding the ocean floor exploration, it requires generous funding. Even national oceanographic efforts at present can be best described as stagnating and somewhat confusing, because very few results are known. Environmental, pollution, and resource studies are needed everywhere, especially following the introduction of an Exclusive Economic Zone around the coastal States.

He explained that because PNG’s knowledge about the oceans and their influence on the earth environmental state as a whole is limited, stimulation and international co-operation are necessary in all sectors of oceanography, including the marine minerals.

It is most important that we increase our efforts on sea-floor inspection

Do we have trained manpower in this kind of sophisticated mining as opposed to onshore exploration and mining?

Do we have our own trained scientists to properly assess and evaluate environmental damage and pollution of our sea waters or are we to use what other scientists tell us as truth?

Do we have our own trained exploration geologist who can understand mineral deposit models, interpreting geophysical and geochemical results, and properly treating large number of data from exploration surveys or are we again to depend largely on explanations given by outsiders who are part of the company conducting the mining?


Filed under Environmental impact, Human rights, Papua New Guinea