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World diamond giant, De Beers, has moved another step further towards 'Namibianising' it's diamond operations in the Southern African state. De Beers has announced that it has established a new multi-million marine diamond company, Debmarine Namibia.

The agreement between De Beers and the Namibian government was sealed on November 29 in the Namibian capital Windhoek at a ceremony attended by Namibian Prime Minister Hage Geingob, De Beers managing director Gary Ralfe, Cabinet Ministers and high ranking officials from the Botswana government and De Beers.

De Beers and the Namibian government already have a 25 years joint venture agreement, entered into in 1994, to create Namdeb (Namibia De Beers) a 50%-50% venture. The establishment of the Debmarine Namibia entails the immediate transfer to the new company of four of the mining vessels valued at about N$700m, deployed by Debmarine South Africa in the Namibian waters.

Debmarine SA, De Beers' wholly-owned subsidiary, is exclusively contracted out by Namdeb to recover diamonds from the seabed. Since Namibia's independence in 1990, Debmarine SA recovered over four million carats. This year, the company hopes to recover 570,000 carats from the sea. Debmarine's output accounts for about 40% of Namdeb's total annual diamond output.

The shareholding in Debmarine Namibia, which will have a Namibian managing director, will mean an extraordinary transfer of skills from Debmarine SA. Says Ralfe, "This is going to be a Namibian company. From January 1, 2001, those four vessels mining in Namibian waters will be carrying the Namibian flag."

Namibia's Mines and Energy Minister, Jesaya Nyamu, said that among Debmarine Namibia's principle aims will be to substantially increase off-shore diamond production over the next decade, with a corresponding growth in revenues and economies of scale.

He said such an increase would secure the future of Namibia's diamond industry in a growing competitive international diamond market. Previously, Namdeb engaged Debmarine SA to contractual basis, which tended to inhibit long-term planning.

"Now, as a joint venture equity holder in Debmarine Namibia, deb can count on its services up through the expiry of Namdeb's licence in 2020," says Nyamu.
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Title Annotation:De Beers establishes Debmarine Namibia
Author:Shigwedha, Absalom
Publication:African Business
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:6NAMI
Date:Jan 1, 2001
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