Mining to resume at Elizabeth Bay
Namdeb is set to resume operations at the Elizabeth Bay Mine, south of Lüderitz in January 2012 – after two years of rehabilitation, says Tony Bessinger, mine manager of Namdeb’s northern coastal operations. According to Bessinger, the team is currently running mining optimisation exercises to ensure that mining starts in January.
“The process plant has been modified and simplified to ensure effective recovery of diamonds. We have also sampled and developed new areas to mine, which have great potential,” he said.
The mine has been on care and maintenance for the last two years. During this period, the diamond mining and operations came to a standstill.
In 2009, it was speculated that the mine operated at a loss. Bessinger said this is no longer the case. “We are currently in a project development phase and will only go into full production in January 2012. We expect to make a significant contribution towards Namdeb’s headline profits in 2012,” he added.
It is estimated that there are about 2.7million carats at the mine, although not all of the diamonds will be mine-able due to the nature of the deposit.
“We are commissioning the new process plant sections and we plan to mine just over 300,000 carats in 2012. However, the mine still has some unsampled areas, and when the opportunity arises we are sure to add many more carats to the resource and extra years to the life of the mine,” Bessinger added.
Senior geologist at the mine, James Alexander, said that the mine has also reached similar levels of production before, and has achieved 340 000 carats in 2007.
Although the mine future outlook is positive, it is still faced with challenges including the input costs for fuel, electricity and labour.
“However, we are constantly analysing the different cost drivers and we strategise ways through improvement projects to manage these challenges. We have a clear understanding of costs and the break even unit cost,” Bessinger said.
He further stated that: “Elizabeth Bay is a dynamic deposit, the only one of its kind in the world. With this comes a whole set of challenges, but we are confident that we have the people and the skills to make it a sustainable and exciting mine.”
Plans are also under way to turn Elizabeth Bay Mine into an employment destination in order to attract skilled employees. “Employee Value Proposition is important to us and we find innovative ways to synergise the needs of employees and that of the business,” Bessinger added.
It is estimated that the mine will employ about 250 people from 2012 onwards, which includes all contractors on site.
According to Bessinger, the southern mine areas have another three years left “if we do no additional exploration while the northern and central portions contain over 1.5 million carats with more carats deposited deeper down. The planned exploration will allow us to secure a bright future for Elizabeth Bay and help us achieve Namdeb’s Vision of 2050,” he said.
Namdeb has injected N$ 60 million for the rehabilitation of the mine.