By Staff Reporter WINDHOEK Australian Stock Exchange (ASX) quoted Bonaparte Diamond Mines (Bonaparte) has started mining diamonds from its offshore Namibian lease areas after sealing a joint venture mining agreement with Diamond Fields International (DFI). Bonaparte said that DFI’s marine mining vessel MV DF Discoverer has started mining operations in the joint operations area in the Diaz Prospect area 1 in Bonaparte’s rich diamond concession, ML111 off the port of LÃƒÆ’Ã†’Ãƒâ€ ‘ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Â ‘ÃƒÆ’Ã†”Ã…Â¡ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â¼deritz, 900 kilometres from the capital Windhoek. The mining vessel started operations on January 27, both Bonaparte and DFI said. The 59-meter long marine mining dredge, MV DF Discoverer is a dedicated marine mining vessel owned and operated by DFI. The vessel is equipped with twin airlift mining heads and an onboard materials processing system. The diamond mining firm said that the area has an indicated resource of 63 000 carats of diamonds. Bonaparte managing director Michael Woodborne said in a company release that the diamondiferous gravels generally lie at shallow depths within average sediment thickness ranging from 0.5 metres to 2.5 metres. Initial indications from the production to date are that diamond recoveries are meeting expectations, Woodborne said. Woodborne said that this allows diamond production rates to be higher and costs lower than in other offshore diamond mining areas. “Mining operations will initially be conducted under the terms of a short form agreement which will be replaced by a more comprehensive agreement when completed,” Woodborne said. The joint venture will be operated on a 70-30 basis giving Bonaparte rights to 30 percent of the proceeds from the sale of any diamonds recovered during the operations in return for obligations to pay 30 percent of the operating costs. “Until the full agreement is signed, Bonaparte’s obligation to pay for its share of total costs is limited to AUS$350 000,” Woodborne said. He added that the full agreement is expected to be completed within the next few weeks and would provide for other normal commercial terms governing mining operations. Bonaparte is also going to retain 30-86 net revenue interest in mining of any areas classified as Indicated Resource on the basis of sampling it completes. Apart from the LÃƒÆ’Ã†’Ãƒâ€ ‘ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Â ‘ÃƒÆ’Ã†”Ã…Â¡ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â¼deritz diamond deposits, Bonaparte has other three active marine projects off the coast of Namibia in addition to its land-based projects in South Africa and Australia. Last year Bonaparte said that it had struck a rich vein of diamonds off the coast of Namibia. The two largest gems recovered during the sampling last year weigh 6.38 carats and 4.07 carats. The firm then said that the diamonds recovered were independently valued at a weighted average of more than US$400 per carat for the two parcels. “This valuation, which is well above the industry average for the run of mine marine gem production, attests to the quality of the deposit,” Woodborne said. Industry experts say that 95 percent of marine gems in Namibia are gem quality. Bonaparte is aiming to ride on an expected shortfall in the global diamond supply market for the next five years. Rough diamond prices have revved upwards by 35 percent since 2002. Growth in demand for diamonds over the next five years would be equivalent to around US$5 billion, whilst supply shortfalls are estimated at US$3 billion.
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