Firestone Diamonds Plc, the AIM-quoted diamond mining outfit, has said it is rolling-up its sleeves in an attempt to fast-track the developments of mines at BK11, BK 16 ÔÇô near Orapa ÔÇöand Tsabong, projects that will brighten the prospects of the mineral driven economic boom.
In its latest update, the company said there has been “significant progress made in the scoping study” adding that mine development may be advanced from the fourth quarter of 2009 to the first quarter paving-the- way for commencement of production in the next two years.
“We have made┬áexcellent┬áprogress┬áin Botswana┬áover the past┬áthree┬ámonths. In particular, we continue to be excited about BK11, where we believe we are close to confirming its economic potential.
“Our primary focus in the coming months is to complete evaluation work on BK11┬áas soon as possible, with the objective of accelerating a mine development decision┬áto early 2009. ┬áWork at Tsabong is progressing well and we┬ácontinue to believe that the prospects for identifying economic kimberlites in the┬áarea are good,” Philip Kenny, CEO of Firestone Diamonds said in an update.
BK11 is near OrapaÔÇöthe world biggest diamond mine ÔÇô which has been dubbed “the best address and the diamond streets in the world”. The BK 11 site is sandwiched by Debswana’s Orapa diamond mine that is 20 kilometers to the southeast and five kilometers north east of the AK6 kimberlite to be mined by African Diamonds and De Beers joint venture.
“Substantial progress has been made at┬áthe┬áBK11┬ákimberlite in the Orapa area,┬áfrom which very good bulk sample results were reported in June 2008,” he added.
“Follow up drilling and bulk sampling is ahead of schedule,” the company stated, pointing out that since July 2008 fourteen core holes have been drilled for approximately┬á1,700 meters, with four┬áholes┬áremaining to be drilled.┬á
The company is hoping to recover approximately 1,000 tonnes of kimberlite from┬álarge diameter drill (“LDD”)┬ádrilling, with four┬á36 inch LDD holes┬ácompleted┬áand┬átwo holes remaining to be drilled.
All the material will be hauled to the bulk sample plant which has been constructed at Tsabong for processing. Further, Firestone Diamonds, a recovery facility in Gaborone that will be charged with the responsibility of sorting concentrate from BK 11 and other kimberlites from bulk sampling plant from Tsabong.
“Significant┬áprogress has been made┬áon┬áthe scoping study┬áfor┬áthe┬ádevelopment┬áof a┬ánew┬ámining operation to exploit BK11 and other kimberlites in the┬áOrapa┬áarea. ┬áThe Company┬áis now evaluating the feasibility, subject to the results of the next stage of bulk
sampling,┬áof┬áaccelerating┬áa┬ádevelopment decision┬áon BK11┬áfrom┬áfourth quarter of 2009┬áto first quarter of 2009, which┬ácould allow first production from BK11 to commence in 2010┬áwith an initial capacity of 1 million tonnes per┬áannum,” the company said.
This┬ámaterial has┬ábeen processed through the BSP and the concentrate is in Gaborone awaiting sorting.┬á Work is continuing on evaluation of the 79 other kimberlites in the field and exploration for new kimberlites.
Earlier in the year, Kennedy said the estimated value of $30 per tonne for the upper portion of BK11 and operating costs in the Orapa area of US $7-8 per tonne, the economic potential looks very good.
BK11 has a surface area of 8.5 hectares.
“The quality of diamonds recovered was very good, comprising mostly clear white