Introduction to Rapid Mining
Rapid Mining was incorporated in 1997 after the founding member, Gavin Craythorne, spent time in Angola as a technical consultant and diver on a
river mining project. Prior to this he had accumulated eleven years of
experience and extensive diving hours in marine mining on the west coast of
During that period he developed a ski-boat class mining vessel which became
the most widely used turnkey-built diamond recovery vessel in the West Coast
diamond industry. Because of this, Rapid Mining has enjoyed 100% market
share of all turnkey-built mining vessels brought into production on
the West Coast between the Olifant’s River mouth in the south and the
Orange River mouth in the north since the year 2000.
This region, and in particular Alexander Bay, is the global centre for
diamond diver-mining. South African expertise has been instrumental in
developing diver operated diamond dredging throughout the rest of the
African continent where, unfortunately even today, artisinal miners called garimpeiros, risk their safety diving with nothing more than a rubber hose in
the side of their mouths, a metal bucket for scooping gravel and a dugout
canoe for a support platform.
It was in January 1996 that Leon Gerber and Brian Atwell, seeking west coast
expertise to solve technical problems at their Luo’ alluvial diamond project,
approached Craythorne for assistance. The Luo’ project was an enormous
success and two years later Rapid Mining produced the full diver-mining
package for their Cassanguidi project. The Cassanguidi project produced 127
000 carats (25.5 kg of diamonds) in ten months using two Super-Digger™ diamond extraction barges. Rapid Mining was also responsible for recruiting
experienced diamond divers from the West Coast diamond industry in a joint venture with Southern Era.
Today Rapid Mining, with the Dredge-Ex® range of diamond mining
equipment, remains at the forefront in the supply of turnkey waterborne diver-mining systems, made possible by virtue of its position in the industry as
both an operational mining contractor and specialist in diver-mining
engineering with over forty successful marine & riverine system builds delivered and a systems designer who was trained as a South African Naval
diver and operationally deployed for more than twenty five years.
In January 2006 the company brought it’s 45 foot mining vessel, DMV Ocean Digger, into production on Alexkor’s sea concession 1A. The
vessel is fitted with a 10” deck-plant and a 1050 mm mass-flow
excavation system which has enabled it to successfully access the difficult
reserves located beneath deep sand.