Diamond Fields International (DFI) is set to resume offshore marine operations on its Namibian mining concessions ML-138, ML-139 and ML-111.

The company will perform the operations in joint venture (JV) with International Mining and Dredging South Africa (IMD), a subsidiary of International Mining and Dredging Holdings (IMDH) and an associate company of Namibia’s Nutam.

DFN and IMD have started a four-stage development programme of DFN’s mining concessions after an agreement was signed between DFI’s Namibian subsidiary Diamond Fields (Namibia) (DFN) and IMD.

While ascertaining the grade and size of diamond deposits, the programme will also determine the available quality and diamond carat sizes.

In addition, the programme will determine the soils and hard layer in addition to the economic and technical considerations in a bid to undertake mining activities in the concessions.

"Getting back onto the water is a major milestone, which the company has worked towards for years."

In the initial stage, which will consist of a multi-sensor geophysical survey of the concessions, survey vessel DP Star will be deployed to complete geophysical surveys in the concession areas.

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The second stage will use a sampling vessel, with the third stage also involve a sampling vessel to complete regional/bulk sampling and a preliminary resources assessment and preparation of a mining plan.

According to DFI, the parties will enter the fourth stage if results from the initial three stages warrant it.

This stage comprises finalising a mining plan and deploying a mining vessel to carry out mine operations.

As part of the programme, potential new resource areas particularly buried palaeo-channel systems will be identified.

By using subsea crawler systems that have the capacity to excavate up to 17m of substrate, the JV will be able to access the previously unavailable targets.

Upon completion of all the stages, IMD will earn 20% interest for stage one; an additional 30% for stage two; and a further 25% for stage three.

The company will receive a final additional 5% for a total of 80% interest in case the parties proceed to stage four mining.

DFI CEO Sybrand van der Spuy said: "These are exciting times for DFI. Getting back onto the water is a major milestone, which the company has worked towards for years.

"We have targeted a number of resource areas, with special interest in the palaeo-channel systems, that we intend to work up in the coming months with the intent of mining should results warrant."