Honing in on a promising area using geophysical mapping, a crawler cuts and dredges the seabed, sucking some 60 tonnes of sediment per hour through a giant pipe and onto the vessel. Without any human contact, the sediment is washed and sorted for the glittering stones, which are sealed into small, barcoded containers for the first stage of their journey to the boutiques of Europe and Asia.
To many, subsea diamond mining may sound like a far-off vision of the future, a fanciful innovation on a par with asteroid mining. But with 1m carats recovered from the seabed in 2015 alone by global mining giant De Beers, the technology is already well into its infancy.
For the firm, which has made a vast fortune sifting the soils of Southern Africa for 130 years, heading to the oceans is not just a technological luxury but also an economic necessity.
With an estimated 95% of diamonds expected to come from the seabed off the coast of southwest Africa and land stocks ever more depleted and costly to exploit, the firm sees the ocean as a vital new frontier in its dominance of the global diamond industry.
The sea-bound future of the diamond sector is just one of the thousands of eye-catching ways in which Africa’s businesses, policymakers and ordinary citizens are turning their attention to the blue economy – a vast, largely untapped area of potential economic activity that has long played second fiddle to land resources.
For the rest of this article: https://africanbusinessmagazine.com/sectors/agriculture/africas-blue-economy-an-overlooked-opportunity/