is world-renowned for its gem quality placer diamonds that occur
along the Orange River as well as, onshore and offshore along the
coastline of Namibia (Diamond
Map (368KB)) The Namibian diamonds were originally transported
via the Orange River into the Atlantic Ocean and distributed northwards
by long-shore currents. Diamonds typically occur as placers within
raised and “drowned” beach terraces, gullies in the
bedrock, and eluvial deposits in wind corridors within southern
Namibia. As onshore diamond reserves are depleted, future diamond
production will predominately come from the seabed. Mid-water to
deep-water mining operations requires sophisticated marine vessels
and crawlers that are capable of retrieving diamondiferous gravels/sands
from the seafloor.
major diamond producing company in Namibia is Namdeb Diamond Corporation
(Pty) Ltd, which accounts for an average of 1.6 million carats per
annum. Other companies mining diamonds in Namibia include Sakawe
Mining Corporation (Samincor) and Diamond Fields Namibia (Pty) Ltd.
information on diamonds:
Diamond mining along the Orange River accounts for 5.2% of the total
revenue produced by Namdeb and for 2.8% of total carats produced.
These diamonds are famous for their good stone size and quality.
The Daberas Mine, which is situated on the northern bank of the
Orange River some 80 km east of Oranjemund, is mined by the conventional
open cast method. The Daberas Mine is the main production facility
in the Orange River mining area, and is capable of treating nearly
four million tons of diamond-bearing gravel a year.
Gem quality diamonds are mined from marine terrace gravels and pocket
beaches along Namibia’s coastline from Oranjemund to Luderitz.
At present the single biggest source of onshore diamonds is Mining
Area 1. The area consists of raised beaches that cover a distance
of over 100 km north of the Orange River mouth to Chameis Bay. The
2003 production figure for diamond Mining Area 1 was some 500 000
the Elizabeth Bay Mine, situated 25 km south of Luderitz, a new
processing plant has recently been constructed. This plant can process
previously untreated consolidated marine sediments. This plant will
produce some 200 000 carats per year, by processing diamond-bearing
material. The project is expected to produce approximately 1.9 million
carats over the next eight years.
DeBeers Marine, Sakawe Mining Ltd (Samincor), and Diamond Fields
Namibia carry out offshore diamond mining in Namibia. Several
smaller Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) companies are also involved
in small scale contract mining in the surf to shallow water.
marine diamond recovery has now surpassed traditional land-based
diamond production. In 2001, over 60% of Namibia’s app. 1.6
million carats per year came from mining the seabed, with 95% being
gem quality. Furthermore, the potential of the marine diamond industry
has barely begun to exploit the vast resources of Namibian marine
diamonds calculated by experts to contain some 2 billion carats.
Surf Zone Mining up to a water depth of 15m:
Divers operate suction hoses connected to pumps stationed on the
The diamondiferous gravels are jigged and diamonds are hand-picked.
Shallow Water Mining at water depths from 15m to 20m:
Divers sweep the seafloor with suction hoses connected to pumps
on small boats. Gravels are concentrated on the boat and taken ashore
for sorting. Mid-water mining at water depths from 20m to 100m:
Gravels are raised from the ocean floor by an airlift system within
solid drill rods (5m-diameter drill bit) to a mining vessel, where
they are sorted. The concentrate is taken by helicopter to the sorting
house for diamond extraction.
Deep-water mining at water depths greater
A remote-operated mobile seafloor crawler is used, which is connected
to the mining vessel by a flexible hose, raising the gravels by
airlift. Gravels are sorted on the ship, and the concentrate is
taken to diamond hand picking on land.
Active exploration for diamondiferous kimberlite pipes is ongoing
in northeastern Namibia, where kimberlite indicator minerals (e.g.
ilmenite, garnet, chrom-diopside) as well as micro-diamonds have
Companies exploring for diamondiferous kimberlites include Motapa
Diamonds Incorporation, Mount Burgess Mining N.L and DeBeers. Past
exploration of kimberlite pipes within the Gibeon Kimberlite Province
was unable to delineate diamondiferous kimberlites due to their
off-craton setting. To date, no economic diamondiferous kimberlite
pipes have been discovered, but great potential exists on both the
Congo and Kalahari cratons.
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