Production Record of 1.16 Million Carats in 2013 for Debmarine

Debmarine Namibia, which is a 50:50 joint venture marine diamond prospecting and mining company, owned in equal shares by the Namibian government and De Beers, achieved a production record of 1.16 million carats during 2013. The company’s CEO yesterday revealed that he expects this year’s levels to be close to 2013 levels.

“This is a milestone production in history. This sterling achievement is due to an exceptionally diligent and passionate team of employees… .Our exceptional production performance year on year is due to the high calibre of the Debmarine Namibia workforce, highly skilled, technical and committed men and women,” noted Debmarine Namibia’s chief executive Otto Shikongo. According to Shikongo 2013 was an exceptional, yet challenging year for Debmarine Namibia.

Speaking in Windhoek yesterday Shikongo said 2013 was challenging in the sense that the company experienced two unwanted safety incidents. “Given the nature of our business, we take incidents like fires on our vessels – and general health and safety matters – extremely seriously. Safety remains at the forefront of everything we do,” Shikongo said.

During 2013 the company’s turnover reached around N$5 billion of which the company contributed around N$2.3 billion to the Namibian treasury in taxes, including royalties, as well as N$1 billion in dividends to its shareholders. “We are unrivaled in our contribution to the Namibian Treasury. This is an aspect of immense pride for all of us at Debmarine Namibia,” said Shikongo. Debmarine Namibia mines at water depths of 90 to 140 metres. Since no active environmental rehabilitation can take place at these water depths the focus is on monitoring natural seabed recovery.

This is achieved through the use of geophysical surveys to assess sediment recovery, as well as by collecting seabed sediment samples which are analysed to assess the state of the seabed communities, using a grab sampler. Samples are collected for both mined and un-mined sites in order to assess potential impacts from natural disturbance. Seabed community recovery monitoring is conducted by independent scientists and each annual report is peer-reviewed by recognised scientists working in this field and recommendations are taken into account.

Shikongo pointed out that Debmarine Namibia has an Environmental Management System in place certified to the international ISO14001 standard, which ensures that operations meet legal compliance and the company strives for continual improvement in environmental management. “Skills training and development is an integral part of our business. As the global leader in marine diamond mining, the company requires unique marine mining technical skills for its high-tech operations,” noted Shikongo. He further added that with the opening of a number of mines in Namibia this year, the skills deficit is one of the major challenges facing Debmarine Namibia.

“Therefore, we have put in place a number of initiatives for the company’s Namibianisation process, which amongst others requires expatriate employees to transfer their skills to Namibian employees. In addition, we support relevant Namibian authorities to achieve international maritime compliance and sponsor Namibian students through a bursary scheme,” Shikongo said. At present Debmarine Namibia spends in excess of N$30 million per year on training Namibians in a variety of careers, particularly in marine-related fields.

On average N$18 million is spent on training and development per annum, benefiting 322 young Namibians over the past thirteen years. They were trained based on the company’s long-term trainee programmes in the disciplines of navigating, marine engineering, accelerated ratings, artisans, crawler pilots, drillers, mandatory marine training, understudy development programmes, as well as leadership and coaching. Other skills development initiatives include the provision of self-study assistance to the permanent employees of Debmarine Namibia.

The company has made significant changes in its Namibianisation initiatives whereby the ratio was 18 percent when the company migrated from South Africa in 2002, versus 80 percent as of March 2014.

Source : New Era