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.
This week Minister of Finance & Economic Development, Dr Thapelo Matsheka approached parliament seeking lawmakers approval of Government’s intention to increase bond program ceiling from the current P15 Billion to P30 billion.
“I stand to request this honorable house to authorize increase in bond issuance program from the current P15 billion to P30 billion,” Dr Matsheka said. He explained that due to the halt in economic growth occasioned by COVID-19 pandemic government had to revisit options for funding the national budget, particularly for the second half of the National Development Plan (NDP) 11.
Botswana Stock Exchange (BSE) has this week revealed a gloomy picture of diamond mining newcomer, Lucara, with its stock devaluated and its entire business affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
A BSE survey for a period between 1st January to 31st August 2020 — recording the second half of the year, the third quarter of the year and five months of coronavirus in Botswana — shows that the Domestic Company Index (DCI) depreciated by 5.9 percent.
Botswana Diamond PLC, a diamond exploration company trading on both London Stock Exchange Alternative Investment Market (AIM) and Botswana Stock Exchange (BSE) on Monday unlocked value from its shares to raise capital for its ongoing exploration works in Botswana and South Africa.
A statement from the company this week reveals that the placing was with existing and new investors to raise £300,000 via the issue of 50,000,000 new ordinary shares at a placing price of 0.6p per Placing Share.
Each Placing Share, according to Botswana Diamond Executives has one warrant attached with the right to subscribe for one new ordinary share at 0.6p per new ordinary share for a period of two years from, 7th September 2020, being the date of the Placing Warrants issue.
In a statement Chairman of Botswana Diamonds, John Teeling explained that the funds raised will be used to fund ongoing exploration activities during the current year in Botswana and South Africa, and to provide additional working capital for the Company.
The company is currently drilling kimberlite M8 on the Marsfontein licence in South Africa and has generated further kimberlite targets which will be drilled on the adjacent Thorny River concession.
In Botswana, the funds will be focused on commercializing the KX36 project following the recent acquisition of Sekaka Diamonds from Petra Diamonds. This will include finalizing a work programme to upgrade the grades and diamond value of the kimberlite pipe as well as investigating innovative mining options.
Drilling is planned for the adjacent Sunland Minerals property and following further assessment of the comprehensive Sekaka database more drilling targets are likely. “This is a very active and exciting time for Botswana Diamonds. We are drilling the very promising M8 kimberlite at Marsfontein and further drilling is likely on targets identified on the adjacent Thorny River ground,” he said.
The company Board Chair further noted, “We have a number of active projects. The recently acquired KX36 diamond resource in the Kalahari offers great potential. While awaiting final approvals from the Botswana authorities some of the funds raised will be used to detail the works we will do to refine grade, size distribution and value per carat.”
In addition BOD said the Placing Shares will rank pari passu with the Company’s existing ordinary shares. Application will be made for the Placing Shares to be admitted to trading on AIM and it is expected that such admission will become effective on or around 23 September 2020.
Last month Botswana Diamond announced that it has entered into agreement with global miner Petra Diamonds to acquire the latter’s exploration assets in Botswana. Key to these assets, housed under Sekaka Diamonds, 100 % subsidiary of Petra is the KX36 Diamond discovery, a high grade ore Kimberlite pipe located in the CKGR, considered Botswana’s next diamond glory after the magnificent Orapa and prolific Jwaneng Mines.
The acquisition entailed two adjacent Prospecting Licences and a diamond processing plant. Sekaka has been Petra’s exploration vehicle in Botswana for year and holds three Prospecting Licenses in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve (Kalahari) PL169/2019, PL058/2007 and PL224/2007, which includes the high grade KX36 kimberlite pipe.