NamDeb Eyes 10-million Carats

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By Petronella Sibeene WINDHOEK Despite a backdrop of immense challenges experienced last year by diamond giant NamDeb, the company starting from this year up until 2010 intends to increase its production to 10 million carats. Making the announcement yesterday, NamDeb’s Managing Director Inge Zaamwani said the mining firm is investing around a billion dollars in different projects that would ensure the attainment of its goal. Once this goal is achieved, it would generate not less than N$43 billion that will contribute to the country’s economy, Zaamwani said. Some of the projects to be invested include the marine dredging project that would involve the use of hi-tech in the Atlantic. The other biggest capital investment is the pocket beaches sites 11 and 12 to be done in 2007 and the upgrading of mining plant number 3. “We are enthusiastic about this new BHAG (big hairy audacious goal) and we are confident that within the next five years we will realise our goal … The ‘Namdeb mv 10 Million Carats’ is ready to sail,” Zaamwani enthusiastically stated. Looking at the 2005 company’s performance, Group Financial Manager Andrew Schanknecht at the same press briefing revealed that last year’s performance was low compared to the previous year. NamDeb’s carats sold reduced by eight percent from 1 854 000 in 2004 to 1 712 000 in 2005. This, according to Zaam-wani, has been caused by the lower land-based production. Marine based production, however, continues to increase. Though experiencing a decrease in land production, NamDeb benefited from the nine percent increase in diamond prices even with a 17 percent decrease in average stone size. In 2004, the stone size was 0.53 carats per stone and 0.44 carats per stone in 2005. The carats however did not affect the diamond sales revenue, which was maintained at N$4 billion given the increase in diamond prices. Interim results of September 2005 predicted that the distributable amount to shareholders is less than what was achieved in the year 2004. In spite of that, taxes paid to the State amounted to N$610 million and total taxation increased to 84 per cent from 78 per cent in 2004 of pre-tax profits. The share-holder’s net dividends in 2004 recorded N$310 million but dropped to N$167 million in 2005. Even if the outlook of carat sales this year is expected to at least equal the achievement of 2004, Namdeb is unlikely to pay any dividend to its shareholders. According to Schank-necht, this is against a background of substantial capital expenditure totalling some N$900 million intended to ensure Namdeb’s long-term viability.