By Michelle Graff
Namdeb announced it has found a buyer for the Elizabeth Bay diamond mine, pictured here. There was “significant” interest in buying the operation, which Namdeb put up for sale in early 2018. (Photo courtesy of De Beers Group)
Windhoek, Namibia—Namdeb, the 50/50 joint venture between De Beers Group and the Namibian government, announced it has sold the Elizabeth Bay Mine to a Namibian company.

A member of the Lewcor Group, a 100 percent Namibian-owned consortium, bought the diamond mine and its associated marine assets in a transaction valued at $120 million to $180 million Namibian dollars ($8.1 million to $12.2 million).

As part of the deal, Namdeb Holdings (Proprietary) Ltd. also will receive a cut of revenue earned from the sale of rough diamonds from now-dormant marine mining sites that Lewcor has indicated it will bring into production in the near future.

Located in the coastal town of Lüderitz in southwest Namibia, the Elizabeth Bay Mine was commissioned in 1991 and operated until 2009, when it was mothballed during the recession.

It reopened in 2011 and remained in operation until September 2018, when Namdeb permanently closed the mine because it was no longer economically viable. The mine produced 200,000 carats in its final full year of operation (2017), making it one of De Beers’ smaller operations.

Namdeb has been trying to find a buyer for Elizabeth Bay since February 2018, and said the sale to Lewcor Group, an “experienced and well-regarded” company in the Namibian mining and civil contracting industry, was the best way to secure its future.

In reopening the mine, Lewcor Group will rehire some of Elizabeth Bay’s 160 employees, and the revival of the mine will also bring jobs to Lüderitz. As a condition of the sale, Elizabeth Bay employees also can be transferred to another Namdeb operaton, a company spokesperson said.

Commenting on the sale, Namdeb CEO Riaan Burger said: “I am hugely appreciative and grateful for the commitment of our employees over many years and wish to thank them for their dedication. Although the decision to sell the mine has not been easy, it was the right thing to do for its future, its employees and the Lüderitz community at large.”

The transaction with Lewcor is subject to customary suspensive conditions, which all parties hope to conclude without delay, De Beers said.

Elizabeth Bay is one of a number of mines De Beers has offloaded or closed in recent years.

Its sale leaves De Beers with the following operations worldwide: four diamond mines in Botswana, one diamond mine in Canada and one in South Africa and, in Namibia, six marine mining vessels (one for exploration and sampling, the SS Nujoma, and five for diamond recovery) and three “recovery areas” on land: the Daberas, Sendelingsdrif and Southern Coastal mines.

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