On 8 January 2001 Namibian Minerals Corporation (NAMCO) advised that its NamSSol mining system had been damaged during the recovery process from the seabed to the support vessel MV Kovambo.
The NamSSol mining system is Namco’s first seabed crawler, which started mining operations in 1998. On Sunday 7 January it was mining in Mining Licence 51 of the Luderitz Bay Grant when its undercarriage apparently became lodged on the seabed. During subsequent recovery the upper chassis of NamSSol parted, leaving the undercarriage on the ocean floor.
No employees were injured and the local marine environment was not adversely affected by the incident.
MV Kovambo arrived in Cape Town today where a preliminary inspection of the damage to the upper chassis was carried out. The slew ring which connects the upper chassis and undercarriage has been completely dislodged. Two supporting beams from the main frame of the upper chassis have sheared, causing distortion to the main frame, dredge pump arrangement and suction boom connection points. Initial estimates are that repairs to the upper chassis may take at least two months.
MV Kovambo departs for the Luderitz Bay Grant tonight, with specialised personnel and equipment for the recovery of the undercarriage. The vessel should arrive in Luderitz by the weekend and recovery of the undercarriage should be completed by mid next week.
The length of disruption to production and the cash flow impact will be confirmed on inspection of the recovered undercarriage and will depend on the repairs that need to be carried out. Contractors are on standby in Cape Town. Further information will be issued on recovery and examination of the undercarriage next week, which may result in a change to the two month repair estimate.
The Company has comprehensive insurance cover for material loss and/or damage to the NamSSol and ancilliary equipment, as well as for operating costs and expenses, including loss of profit.
“Despite this setback, NamSSol is one of four production units operating off the Namibian coast, of which our new Nam 2 system is by far the largest and is expected to be the principal source of diamond production this year,” said Namco Chairman and CEO Alastair Holberton.