African Diamonds the premier diamond miner, praised its resource at AK 6 saying it is poised to rival the country’s second richest mine ÔÇô in terms of gem quality ÔÇô the Letlhakane mine.
The proposed mine, which lies 15 kilometers south-west of the Letlhakane Village, is expected to produce its first gem diamonds by 2009.
“We are looking at something as big as Letlhakane mine both in terms of production per carat and the quality,” Chairman of African Diamonds, John Teeling, told The Sunday Standard. “And what we are going to do is not complicated; it is a question of building a quarry.”
Tilling was speaking on the side-lines of the just ended Mining Conference which was held in the South African resort city of Cape Town.
“We are working on the feasibility study which will be presented in the next six months and, thereafter, we will apply for a mining license,” he added.
Last month, African Diamonds told its Annual General Meeting in London that it hoped that the mine would be operational by 2009, thus taking into account the 14 months period needed for mine construction.
“We are looking at producing 600, 000 (gem quality ) carats in the first year, and, thereafter, production will pickup to the range of between 1.2 and 1.5 million carats per annum,” Teeling said.
The AK 6 is a joint project between African Diamonds and De Beers, the South African-based diamond giant, which owns 51 percent of the project and can acquire up to 70 percent equity by funding the exploration work and bankable study.
The resource discovered by a young De Beers geologist, Mark Scowcroft, who left the former employer after failing to convince them about their “incorrect” geological model to pursue the project commonly known as AK6.
The exploration exercise carried out by De Beers following the joint venture through the use of its new technology found out that the kimberliteÔÇöthe volcanic rock deposit containing diamonds ÔÇô was much larger than originally thought.
It also contained the rare nitrogen free gemstone deposits found in 45- carat Hope diamond in the Smithsonian in New York and Cullinan diamonds which are part of the Crown Jewels.
“These will be very good quality diamonds and according to our valuation we are talking of diamonds of US $ 150 per carat,” he added.
The mine will initially be an openÔÇôcast with a life-span of between 12 and 15 years at the depth of about 200 meters. It also has a provision for an underground which will stretch its life-span to possibly 30 years.
“This is a huge resource and we expected it to last at least a generation,” Teeling added.
Further, he said AK8 ÔÇô a five hectres pipe ÔÇô is on the right track but needs to be supported by satellites mine but he is pinning his hope on PL 36 which has some confirmed resource.
“At AK8 we are looking at a mine which will be supported by satellite operations,” he said, adding that “ we have drilled at Serowe and found nothing.”
“We are only pinning our hopes on PL 36 which is 22 hectares squared in Orapa and it has ten confirmed carats at the time of De Beers’ exploration,” Teeling said.
As part of the moves to develop potential resources which are still under exploration such as BK6, BK3 and BK7 which they how that they have the same geological make-up as AK6 and AK 8 the Botswana Stock Exchange and London Stock Exchange listed company said it is looking up to raise money from Botswana.
“African Diamond is looking up to raise loans in Botswana which will have to be converted into shares. This is not because I am nice to Botswana, it makes a lot of commercial sense.
“All over the world Botswana is known for diamonds and they understand diamond mining much better. I would expect a lot of finance would be raised in Botswana and I would prefer to have locals,” Teeling added.
He said he expects all of African Diamonds produce to be sold through DTC Botswana.