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30 Years Subsea Diamond Mining with MHWirth Drilling Equipment

30 Years Subsea Diamond Mining with MHWirth Drilling Equipment
September 29, 2020 Kerstin richter
De Beers’ diamond mining vessel Debmar Atlantic with MHWirth drilling equipment

30 Years Subsea Diamond Mining with MHWirth Drilling Equipment

In 1990, MHWirth delivered the first large-scale drilling rig for De Beers’ diamond mining vessel “Coral Sea”. This development laid the foundation for a powerful collaboration between MHWirth and De Beers, the world’s largest diamond company. Ever since then, MHWirth equipped five drill ships for De Beers to harvest diamonds off the coast of Namibia in water depths of up to 150 m. Continuous system upgrades and optimization during operation significantly improved the vessels’ performance.

The strategic partnership between De Beers and MHWirth delivered significant gains in the areas of asset utilization, equipment availability and reliability with significant improvements in mining rate.

MHWirth technology for diamond mining

During mining operation, a MHWirth drill bit with up to 7.2 m in diameter loosens the material from the seabed. The material is then transported vertically through a large diameter airlift drill string (up to 700 mm in diameter) to the drilling vessel for further processing. Core of this technology is MHWirth’s efficient and environmentally-friendly reverse circulation technology, also known as airlift technology. Compared to other solutions, MHWirth’s airlift technology uses only robust components with limited complexity under water, thus maximizing equipment availability and optimizing operational costs (OPEX). Thus, MHWirth drilling equipment allows the vessels to operate even under severe sea conditions.


October 2020