Lucara Diamond Corporation a Canadian conceived diamond group operating Botswana’s large diamonds producer Karowe mine this week announced the recovery of yet another rare mineral find, this time the largest diamond ever unearthed in Botswana.
A statement from Vancouver released on April 25, 2019 reports that the 1,758 carat diamond is one of the largest diamonds in recorded history, and the largest diamond to be mined at Karowe to date. Karowe Mine is wholly owned by Lucara, located in the lucrative Boteti diamond fields which houses one of the most prolific diamond kimberlites in the world.
According to the Botswana Stock Exchange top gem producer the unbroken 1,758 carat stone was recovered through Lucara’s state of the art XRT circuit, commissioned in April 2015. Weighing close to 352 grams and measuring 83mm x 62mm x 46mm, the diamond has been characterized as near gem of variable quality, including domains of high-quality white gem.
Since commissioning of the XRT circuit in 2015, a total of 12 diamonds in excess of 300 carats have been recovered at Karowe, including 2 greater than 1,000 carats, from a total production of approximately 1.4 million carats. Of the 12 +300 carat diamonds recovered, 50 percent were categorised as gem quality with 11 sold to date generating revenue in excess of US$158 million, around P1.5 billon
Lucara President & Chief Executive Officer Eira Thomas says Lucara’s technologically advanced; XRT diamond recovery circuit has once again delivered historic results. “Karowe has now produced two diamonds greater than 1,000 carats in just four years, affirming the coarse nature of the resource and the likelihood of recovering additional, large, high quality diamonds in the future, particularly as we mine deeper in the ore body and gain access to the geologically favourable EM/PK(S) unit, the source of both of our record breaking, +1,000 carat diamonds.” She said,
Since mining began at Karowe in 2012, a total of over 129 diamonds in excess of 100 carats have been recovered, 33 in 2018 alone. The tally includes 12 diamonds larger than 300 carats in size, of which 5 were recovered in 2018. In addition, Lucara has sold 180 diamonds in excess of $1 million each and ten diamonds have sold for in excess of $10 million each.
In 2015 the company recovered the world‘s third largest diamond ever found, and the second-largest of gem quality. Only the non-gem black Sergino and the gem-quality Cullinan are larger that Lesedi La Rona which made waves internationally on the global diamond sales space. The 1 109 carats Lesedi La Rona diamond got its name from a P25 000 national naming competition and was sold to a London based British multinational jeweler, Graff Diamonds.
The Karowe Diamond mine currently boasts of its open pit reserves of 2.6 million carats extending out to 2026 and is in the process of completing a feasibility study that could expand mining underground to 2036 and beyond. Lucara reports that a budget of $14.8 million has been approved to complete a feasibility study that was initiated last year, evaluating the potential for an underground mining operation at the mine.
“Work undertaken in 2018 under a budget of approximately $29 million has significantly de-risked the project and in 2019, efforts will focus on follow up geotechnical and hydrogeological drilling and related studies,” shared Eira Thomas in statements released early this year. Lucara hinted the possibility of going underground in their Quarter 3 results last year when they received promising feedback from the underground feasibility study. According to the Vancouver headquartered Diamond Corporation an updated mineral resource was announced for the AK06 kimberlite during 2018 Q2. The updated Mineral Resource Estimate was completed by Mineral Services Canada Inc.
The estimate is based on historical evaluation data combined with new sampling results of microdiamond, bulk density and petrography from recent deep core drilling and from historical drill cores. Lucara further explains that new delineation drill coverage and review of historical drill cores supported an update of the internal geological model. Production data which includes a controlled production run from the Eastern magmatic-pyroclastic kimberlite and recent sales-valuation results have been incorporated into the grade and value estimates, which have been made based on an updated model of process plant recovery efficiency.
The in situ Mineral Reserve for AK06with an effective date of May 25, 2018 is within the probable category containing 19.84 Million tonnes with a recoverable grade of 13.08 carats per hundred tonne for 2.60 Million carats with an average price per carat of $ 624/ct. “Life of Mine and Working stockpiles contribute an additional 5.56 Million tonnes with a recoverable grade of 6.7 carats per hundred tonne with an average price of $625/ct. The recoverable grade is based on the updated Mineral Resource estimate as presented in the technical report (1.25 mm bottom cut off size – BCOS) at 70 percent of in situ carats at 1.00 mm bottom cut off size.
For the year 2019, the Lucara projected revenues between $170 million and $200 million, consistent with the forecast for 2018. These projections include “Specials” which are diamonds that are 10.8 carats and larger but exclude the sale of any truly unique diamonds such as the 1,109 carat Lesedi la Rona and the 813 carat Constellation. Thomas says having stabilized and significantly improved its mining operations at Karowe in 2018; Lucara is now focused on optimizing the base business and pursuing a suite of high potential, organic growth opportunities. “The completion of a feasibility study examining the potential for underground production and Life of Mine expansion at Karowe from 2026 until at least 2036 remains a top priority for 2019,” she said.
Lucara Boss also added that her company will continue to systematically ramp up diamond sales through Clara , the company’s transformational, proprietary digital sales platform that successfully completed its first trial sale in December 2018.“Our focus at Karowe in the remaining course of 2019 will be on driving operational efficiencies, increased productivity and cost control, and maximizing cash flow.
The waste stripping bottleneck is now behind us and we expect stripping ratios to steadily improve towards the end of the calendar year, enabling improved access to high value, south lobe ore.” She said. The announcement by Lucara follows a week after government wholly owned diamond sales outfit Okavango Diamond announced the recovery of a rare blue diamond unearthed in Debswana Orapa Mine, adjacent to Lucara’s Karowe.
Lucrative and highly anticipated national lottery tender that saw several Batswana businessmen partnering to form a gambling consortium to pit against their South African counterparts, culminates into a big power gamble.
WeekendPost has had a chance to watch lottery showcase even before the anticipated and impending national lottery set-up launches. A lot has been a big gamble from the bidding process which is now set for the courts next year January following a marathon legal brawl involving the interest of the gambling fraternity in Botswana and South Africa.
Households representing more than half of Botswana’s population-mostly residing in rural areas- do not know where their next meal will come from, but neither do they take into consideration the quality and/or quantity of the food they consume.
This is according to the latest Prevalence of Food Insecurity in Botswana report which was done for the 2018/19 period and represents the state of food insecurity data even to this time. The Prevalence of Food Insecurity was released by Statistics Botswana and it released results with findings that the results show that at national level 50.8 percent of the population in Botswana was affected by moderate to severe food insecurity in 2018/19, while 22.2 percent of the population was affected by severe food insecurity only.
According to the report, this translates to 27 percent of the population being food secure that is to say having adequate access to food in both quality and quantity. According to Statistician General, Burton Mguni, when explaining how the food data was compiled, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), is custodian of the “Prevalence of Undernourishment (PoU)” and “Prevalence of moderate or severe food insecurity in the population based on the Food Insecurity Experience Scale (FIES)” SDG indicators, for leading FIES data analysis and the resultant capacity building.
“The FIES measures the extent of food insecurity at the household or individual level. The indicator provides internationally comparable estimates of the proportion of the population facing moderate to severe difficulties in accessing food. The FIES consists of eight brief questions regarding access to adequate food, and the questions are answered directly with a yes/no response. It (FIES) complements the existing food and nutrition security indicators such as Prevalence of Undernourishment.
According to the FIES, with increasing severity, the quantity of food consumed decreases as portion sizes are reduced and meals are skipped. At its most severe level, people are forced to go without eating for a day or more. The scale further reveals that the household’s experience of food insecurity may be characterized by uncertainty and anxiety regarding food access and compromising the quality of the diet and having a less balanced and more monotonous diet,” says Mguni.
The 50.8 percent of the population in Botswana which was affected by moderate to severe food insecurity are characterized as people experiencing moderate food insecurity and face uncertainties about their ability to obtain food. These people have been forced to compromise on the quality and/or quantity of the food they consume according to the report on food insecurity.
Those who experience severe food insecurity, the 22.2 percent of the population, are people who have typically run out of food and, at worst, gone a day (or days) without eating. According to the statistics, rural area population experienced moderate to severe food insecurity at 65 percent while urban villages were at 46.60 percent and cities/town were at 31.70 percent. Those experiencing the most extreme and severe insecurity were at rural areas making 33.10 percent while urban villages and towns were at 11.90 percent and 17.50 respectively.
According to a paper compiled by Sirak Bahta, Francis Wanyoike, Hikuepi Katjiuongua and Davis Marumo and published in December 2017, titled ‘Characterization of food security and consumption patterns among smallholder livestock farmers in Botswana,’ over 70 percent of Botswana’s population reside in rural areas, and majority (70%) relies on traditional/subsistence agriculture for their livelihoods.
The study set out to characterize the food security situation and food consumption patterns among livestock keepers in Botswana. “Despite the policy change, challenges still remain in ensuring that all persons and households have access to food at all times. For example, during an analysis of the impacts of rising international food prices for Botswana, BIDPA reported that food prices tended to be highest in the rural areas already disadvantaged by relatively low levels of income and high rates of unemployment,” said the study.
According to the paper, about 9 percent of households were found to be food insecure and this category of households included 6 percent of households that ranked poorly and 3 percent that were on the borderline according to the World Food Programme’s (WFP) definition of food security.
Media reports state that the World Bank has warned that disruption to production and supply chains could ‘spark a food security crisis’ in Africa, forecasting a fall in farm production of up to 7 percent, if there are restrictions to trade, and a 25 percent decline in food imports.
Food security in Botswana or food production was also attacked by the locust pandemic which swept out this country’s vegetation and plants. The locust is said to have contributed to 25 percent loss in production.
Global lockdown have been a thorn in diamonds having shiny sales, but a lot of optimism shows with the easing of Covid-19 restrictions, the precious stones will be bought with high volumes towards festive season. The diamond market is however warned of the resurgence of Covid-19 in key markets presents ongoing risks amid the presence and optimist about the new Covid-29 vaccines.
The latest findings published as De Beers Group’s latest Diamond Insight ‘Flash’ Report, which looks at the impact of the pandemic on relationships and engagements, has revealed that in the US that more couples than ever are buying diamond engagement rings. Bridal sales is mostly the primary source of diamond jewellery demand in recent months, De Beers said.
According to De Beers, interviews with independent jewellers around the US revealed that the rate of couples getting engaged has increased compared with the period when Covid-19 first had an impact in the US in the spring.
“In addition, despite challenging economic times, consumers were spending more than ever on diamond engagement rings – often upgrading in colour, cut and clarity, rather than size. Several jewellers speculated that with consumers spending less on elaborate weddings and/or honeymoons in the current environment, they had more to spend on choosing the perfect ring,” said De Beers.
According to De Beers, a national survey of 360 US women in serious relationships, undertaken in late October in collaboration with engagement and wedding website, The Knot. This survey is said to have found that the majority of respondents (54%) were thinking more about their engagement ring than the wedding itself (32%) or the honeymoon (15%), supporting jewellers’ hypothesis that engagement ring sales were benefiting from reduced wedding and travel budgets in light of Covid-19 restrictions.
When it came to researching engagement rings, online was by far the predominant channel for gaining ideas/inspiration at 86% of consumers surveyed, with 85% saying they had saved examples of styles they liked, according to De Beers. According to the survey, only a uarter of respondents said they had looked in-store at a physical location for design inspiration.
“For many couples, the pandemic has brought them even closer together, in some instances speeding up the path to engagement after forming a deeper connection while experiencing lockdown and its associated ups and downs as a partnership. Engagement rings are taking on even greater symbolism in this environment, with retailers reporting couples are prepared to invest more than usual, particularly due to budget reductions in other areas,” De Beers CEO Cleaver said.
According to De Beers Group, its Diamond Insight Flash Report series is focused on understanding the US consumer perspective in light of Covid-19 and monitoring how it evolves as the crisis evolves. Also, the company said, it is augmenting its existing research programme with additional consumer, retailer and supply chain touch-basis to understand the pain points and the opportunities for stakeholders across the diamond pipeline.
Demand for diamonds is as hard and resilient as the precious stone itself. De Beers pocketed US$ 450 million in its recently held ninth rough diamond sales cycle, and the company says it is more flexible approach to rough diamond sales during the ninth sales cycle of 2020, with the Sight event extended beyond its normal week-long duration.
“Steady demand for De Beers Group’s rough diamonds continued in the ninth sales cycle of the year, reflecting stable consumer demand for diamond jewellery at the retail level in the US and China, and expectations for reasonable demand to continue throughout the holiday season. However, the resurgence of Covid-19 infections in several consumer markets presents ongoing risks,” said De Beers CEO Bruce Cleaver recently.
High expectations are on diamonds being a sentimental gift for holiday season or as the most fetished gift. However the ninth cycle was lower than the eighth which registered US$ 467 million. For the last year period which corresponds with the current one, De Beers managed to raise US$ 400.