Vancouver, February 19, 2004 – Diamond Fields International Ltd. (TSX: DFI) is very pleased to announce that it has entered into a joint venture agreement with Samicor Mining Services (Pty) Ltd. to carry out diamond mining operations on a 50/50 basis on Diamond Fields’ marine mining license ML111 located near Luderitz, Namibia. Although diamond production will be split equally between the parties, operational costs to DFI will be capped to a fixed US dollar amount. Diamond mining operations will utilize Samicor’s chartered vessel mv Kovambo, which is equipped with the 3rd Generation Seabed crawler based on the Namssol Crawler (“the SeaBed Crawler”) mining system and a diamond processing plant.
Samicor Mining Services is owned by LL Mining Corporation, the mining arm of the Leviev group of companies which is one of the world’s largest diamond companies.
The mining system forming part of the mv Kovambo has proved itself capable of very high and consistent production levels in the geological conditions found in the Marshall Fork marine deposits. The Seabed Crawler Mining system was successfully deployed in Namco’s (Namibian Minerals Corporation) Luderitz Bay Grant (ML51) licence area which is immediately adjacent to Diamond Fields’ Marshall Fork concession. It commenced mining operations in 1998 on Namco’s cross border extensions to the Marshall Fork deposits, and in total produced approximately 400,000 carats generating an estimated US$60,000,000 in revenue of which 95% were gem quality diamonds. Production from these extensions peaked at over 200,000 carats in 1999, including a single day when 16,271 carats were recovered.
The Seabed Crawler is a remotely controlled tracked mining vehicle with very high production capacity. It is equipped with a powerful excavation arm and centrifugal dredge pump. The mv Kovambo is a 104 metre, 3,300 ton vessel equipped with an integrated mining system developed at a cost of approximately US$30 million, including the upgraded SeaBed Crawler mining tool which includes launch, recovery and heave compensation equipment, a 50 tonne per hour dense media processing plant, and a final recovery X-ray sorting plant. The SeaBed Crawler mining system was purchased by Samicor following the liquidation of Namco last year, and was specially designed by Namco for diamond recovery from similar deposit to that of the Marshall Fork deposits.
“We are delighted to have concluded this agreement and believe the joint venture with Samicor will prove to be a powerful alliance between Diamond Fields International and one of the world’s largest diamond conglomerates. This joint venture will optimize our high grade marine diamond concession by applying outstanding technology specifically designed to mine in the conditions found within our concession. We look forward to a significant increase in the level of diamond production from ML111, resulting in enhanced cash flow for the Company. The deployment of crawler-based technology for the first time on Diamond Fields’ Luderitz Concession will place DFI at the uppermost level of marine mining operations worldwide.” says Mr. Gregg Sedun, President and CEO of Diamond Fields International. Pictures of the mv Kovambo and Seabed Crawler are available for viewing at www.diamondfields.com
The mv Kovambo is berthed in Cape Town harbour undergoing refurbishment and maintenance work on the vessel and associated mining plant. Diamond mining operations are scheduled to recommence on the Luderitz Concession by the end of May, 2004. The term of the joint venture agreement is for an initial six month period, with Diamond Fields having the sole option to renew the joint venture on the same terms for a further six month period. The agreement between DFI and Samicor is subject to the parties agreeing to an acceptable mine plan within a 45 day period.
DIAMOND FIELDS INTERNATIONAL LTD.
Gregg J. Sedun,
President and Chief Executive Officer
For further information contact: Investor Relations (604-682-2113)
Statements in this release that are forward-looking statements are subject to various risks and uncertainties concerning the specific factors identified in the Diamond Fields’ periodic filings with Canadian Securities Regulators. Such forward-looking information represents management’s best judgment based on information currently available. No forward-looking statement can be guaranteed and actual future results may vary materially. Diamond Fields does not assume the obligation to update any forward-looking statement.