Botswana Diamonds (BOD) has announced that it has renewed two strategic prospecting licenses in the Kalahari area for an additional two years, a development that the company says will give them access to diamonds that are attractive in size and grade.
The news of the renewal filtered through on Thursday last week, with the diamond explorer listed on Botswana Stock Exchange and London’s AIM disclosing that that Prospecting Licences PL232 and PL235, held by the Company’s wholly-owned subsidiary Sunland Minerals (Pty) Lim
ited have been renewed for an additional two years to September 2021.
“These key licences, covering just over 500sq kms, are strategically located in the central Kalahari Desert west of the Ghaghoo diamond mine. Botswana Diamonds has already identified prospective drill ready targets. The intensive work included aeromagnetic surveys, ground magnetic surveys, soil sampling and target selection,” the company said in the statement.
“Analyses of concentrations of Kimberlitic Indicator Minerals on the licences indicate proximity to kimberlite pipes, which regional geology suggests may be attractive in size and grade.”
BOD further announced that it is already in extended discussions with a major international diamond producer to joint venture the next phase of work on these strategic licences. The company was until 2018 in a joint venture with Alrosa, the Russian miner which is world’s largest producer of diamonds by value, and together held prospecting licenses over the diamond rich Orapa and Kalahari.
Besides its operations in Botswana under its subsidiary Sunland Minerals, BOD is part of another partnership in diamond exploration in the country. In 2013, BOD signed a joint venture with Brightstone Mining on the Gope block located in Kalahari, and BCL subsequently took over the block in 2015 and created Maibwe Diamonds.
The Maibwe project consists of a block of ten licenses, which are located in the Central Kalahari region of the country. The area is deemed highly prospective for diamond discoveries. Four kimberlites containing diamonds were discovered in 2015 by BCL, the majority shareholder and operator.
Other partners include local Botswana group Future Minerals (20 percent ownership stake) and private South African venture Siseko (29 percent ownership stake), in which BOD has a 51 percent ownership stake. Therefore, Botswana Diamonds has a net 15 percent interest carry through its exploration work in the project.
However the Maibwe project came to a halt following BCL’s provisional liquidation in 2016, and has since made its intention to dispose of its 51 percent shareholding in Maibwe. BOD has previously bid for BCL’s shares at P4 million, representing the amount BCL spent in the project. BCL did not accept the offer and instead they brought in a team of consultants to produce a prospectus to lure other investors to buy the shares. So far BCL has not been able to sell its stake.
BOD is one of the most prolific diamond exploration and project development companies that holds exploration licences in Botswana and South Africa. Recently the company’s chairman said there is huge potential at Maibwe project, a development that could see the company finally going into production and becoming a producer of gem diamonds.
John Teeling, BOD chairman, said of all their ongoing projects at various stages, Maibwe presents an upside opportunity after preliminary findings revealed kimberlites which are diamondiferous. Teeling was the founder of African Diamonds, which discovered the AK6 mine in Botswana, a venture that eventually became Lucara’ s famous Karowe Mine. The Lucara Diamond Corp. takeover of African Diamonds in 2010 was worth approximately $90 million.
The veteran explorer says he would like to move beyond exploration and go in deep into production. “I would like to be in production. At this point, instead of being an explorer, I would like to be a producer. We would like to get to production. So, if we are able to, we think we will.”
By making a second bid for BCL’s stake in Maibwe, BOD is showing no intention of giving up on a potential honey pot, and if it secures BLC’s shares it will become the major shareholder, putting it firmly in control. Moreover, the exploration company is said to be looking at expanding its footprint in Southern Africa.
In May, the company teamed up with Vast Resources, a mining and resource development firm, to explore for diamonds in Zimbabwe. This is in addition to other joint projects the company is focused on. In South Africa, the diaomd explorer is working on two projects; a prospecting license for the Mooikloof asset, adjacent to the Oaks mine-which De Beers owned, and close to another De Beers mine – Venetia.
The diamond exploring firm has also received its technical valuation of Thorny River project, also based in South Africa. The results show the deposit holds between 1.2 million and 2 million tons of kimberlite, estimated to be worth $120 and $220 per carat.