Namdeb has been presented with the African World Heritage Fund award for excellence, in recognition of the company’s commitment and exemplary contribution to the conservation and management of the Oranjemund Shipwreck discovered in 2006.
The award is presented to companies that have contributed significantly to the protection of natural and cultural heritage on the African continent.
Namdeb CEO Inge Zaamwani-Kamwi received the award at a breakfast meeting hosted by the Patron of the African World Heritage Fund Phuthuma Nhleko and the Chairperson of the African Union Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma in Midrand, South Africa on 6 May.
The shipwreck which is believed to be the remains of a Portuguese ship was sailing to India when it sunk on the Namibian coast.
According to the October 2006 issue of the National Geographic magazine; Portuguese maritime archaeologists concluded that the wreck is probably that of the Bom Jesus (the ‘Good Jesus’) which was part of a fleet of trading ships sent from Portugal to India in 1533.
The Bom Jesus was owned by Portugal’s King João III.
The shipwreck was discovered in Namdeb’s Mining Area 1 (MA1), some 18 km north of Oranjemund, by Kapaandu Shatika a dozer operator at Namdeb. Shatika unintentionally; in the cause of his mining excavation work, exposed the shipwreck material in the form of wood, copper ingots and two cannons on the morning of 1 April 2008.
Some 5438 artefacts of immense cultural, scientific and intrinsic value were recovered. These include 2159 gold coins, 1845 copper ingots, 109 silver coins, 67 elephant tusks, 14 cannonballs, eight bronze cannons, five anchors, three astrolabes, three navigational dividers and part of the ship’s compass, as well as pewter tableware, copper cooking utensils, swords, muskets and chain mail.
The copper alone weighed about 20 tons, and there were also about three and a half tons of tin. Several wrought iron cannons, swords, muskets and a box of sword blades – all of which were locked in concretions - were left in situ as were the wooden structural remains of the ship that had been exposed.
Namdeb donated one of its engineering workshops to serve as the holding place for the artefacts where they are being preserved under the auspices of the Ministry of Youth, Culture and Sports.
Commenting on the award, Zaamwani- Kamwi said, “We are delighted to be the recipient of this prestigious award. Whilst this award is in recognition of the outstanding job we did in managing the shipwreck find and its preservation, we pride ourselves for our over-all track-record on environmental management and conversation programmes.”