WINDHOEK (Reuters) - Namdeb Holdings Limited, a joint venture between the Namibian Government and Anglo American’s (AAL.L) diamond unit De Beers Group, said on Thursday that it has sold Elizabeth Bay Mine and its associated marine assets as a going concern to Lewcor, a 100% Namibian-owned consortium.
Namdeb, which unsuccessfully explored a variety of options to extend the life of its Elizabeth Bay Mine beyond 2019, ceased operations in September 2018 because it could no longer run the operation economically.
The company said it first put the mine up for sale in February last year, seeking to find an operator suited to operate the mine in a sustainable way, ensuring continuation of employment and economic activities in Namibia.
The mine, located along the southwestern coast of Namibia near the town of Luderitz, produced around 200,000 carats in 2017 and employed approximately 160 people.
The transaction is worth 120 million Namibian dollar ($8.23 million), with potential upside to N$180 million. Namdeb said it will share in the revenue from certain marine mining areas associated with the Elizabeth Bay Mine, which Lewcor has indicated it will bring into production in the near-term.
Namdeb said the transaction creates employment opportunities for those affected by the closure of the mine, and for the larger community and economy.
“A rigorous, independently-advised process enabled Namdeb to select a company with not only the right mining and financial credentials, but also a commitment to meet future social and environmental obligations,” Namdeb chairman Chris Nghaamwa said.
“We are delighted that the new owner is broad-based, and is fully owned by Namibian citizens,” he said.
More details on the ownership structure of Lewcor were not immediately available.
Diamond mining generates 20 percent of the southern African country’s export earnings, but this could be under threat as Namdeb could close four mines by 2022 now that many major onshore deposits have been depleted.
Reporting by Nyasha Nyaungwa; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall