De Beers photoshoot on a different scale

Marine shoot for De Beers magazine
Marine shoot for De Beers magazine
Marine shoot for De Beers magazine
Marine shoot for De Beers magazine

Did you know that diamonds are mined from the seabed off the coast of Namibia? Mining giant De Beers has six huge mining vessels and one 285-tonne crawler – essentially a vast hoover, which attaches to a vessel and trawls the ocean floor at depths of 140 metres in the hunt for diamonds.

The fleet are designed to spend years at a time anchored in rough waters, only returning to shore twice in a five-year period. We sent photographer Kent Andreasen to capture vessel !Gariep and the crawler in Cape Town, where they had been brought for scheduled maintenance work. In the 40 days that each spends in dry dock, some 4,000 people will work on them. In total approximately 750,000 to one million hours go into improving and repairing the vessels to ensure they are seaworthy. It has been described as ‘a project on steroids.’

When Kent first saw the crawler he says, “The scale of it blew my mind and the fact that it worked at such depths was unbelievable. It looked like a massive green insect.” He also found it startling to see the sheer number of people working on the vessel while it was in port. “It was like a swarm of ants doing a multitude of things. To see the collective power of humans and what we are able to build was something else.”

In order to communicate the size of the vessel and the crawler, Kent made sure there were people in the shots. “When photographing machinery of this size, it’s important for me to add scale to the images. People relate most to that sense of scale as it’s universal.”

The De Beers fleet recovers between 1.2 and 1.3 million carats each year.

The shoot featured in the October 2017 edition of Pursuit, our employee engagement programme for De Beers.