Firestone Diamonds plc, the AIM-quoted diamond mining and exploration company, last week announced “positive results” from bulk sampling at its BK11 project near Orapa as its sampling results showed to high quality diamonds of about US $ 200 per carat while the operating costs for that were substantially lower.
According to the report, which was posted on the company’s website, BK 11 showed some high quality diamonds of between 10 carats to 33 carats with a robust economic potential with an estimated gross value of $S 30 per tonne at the cost of between US $ 7-8 per tonne.
Firestone said in a statement that a decision regarding BK 11 will be developed by end of next year. The move comes on the heels of its prospecting licence in Tsabong area, where it started at the beginning of the year and whose results were very encouraging. That will further be triggered by BK 16 which is also within the area of Orapa mine.
“The Tsabong grade estimate increased to 25 cpht based on additional microdiamond recoveries.”
Two new kimberlites were discovered, bringing the total in Tsabong to 85 and a new prospecting licence granted for 2,500 square kilometers since the last update during the first quarter of the year.
Philip Kenny, CEO of Firestone Diamonds said, “The bulk sampling results from BK11 are very encouraging and are the highlight of our recent activities in Botswana. With an estimated value of $30 per tonne for the upper portion of BK11 and operating costs in the Orapa area of $7-8 per tonne, the economic potential looks very good. Based on these results we have decided to establish a second bulk sampling plant in Botswana to support evaluation and development work at Orapa.
“With the operational capability, we have put in place in Botswana, we expect to be able to fast track BK11 to a development decision by the end of 2009. This is the first of 15 kimberlites selected for bulk sampling from our Botswana portfolio and we believe that the prospects for identifying further economic kimberlites are very good,” Kenny said.
Firestone’s 80 percent owned BK11 kimberlite is situated approximately 20 kilometers south east of Debswana’s Orapa Mine and 5 kilometers north east of the AK6 kimberlite, on which De Beers and African Diamonds are developing a new mine.
BK11 has a surface area of 8.5 hectares and overburden ranges from 0 to 17 meters.
“The first stage bulk sampling programme on BK11, which commenced in Q1 2008, has been completed, with very good results. Three 24 inch diameter large diameter drill (‘LDD’) holes were completed and 348 tonnes of drill sample material were processed at the Company’s bulk sampling plant at Tsabong. A total of 197 diamonds weighing 17.0 carats were recovered,” the company said in a statement.
The most significant result came from the crater unit, which extends to a depth of approximately 120 meters. This material produced 155 diamonds weighing 13.6 carats, which represents a sample grade of 10 carats , and had a number of high grade zones with grades of up to 33 carats. With the relatively small sample size taken to date, the company said that the sample grade is likely to be understated.
“The quality of diamonds recovered was very good, comprising mostly clear white gemstones. No industrial diamonds were recovered in the coarse fractions, compared to the more typical average of 20% to 50% from Botswana’s current kimberlite mines.
“The parcel contained three stones of approximately 1 carat in size, which is also very encouraging in relation to diamond value. The value of diamonds recovered is estimated at approximately $200 per carat, although a larger parcel will be required to develop a higher confidence estimate.”
An additional 36 inch LDD drilling and bulk sample trenching will then be undertaken with the objective of being able to define an Indicated Resource and commence mine development by the end of 2009. As this work will require a new bulk sampling plant to be established in the Orapa area, the Company has decided to relocate the processing plant from its Avontuur Mine in South Africa, which is currently on care and maintenance, to Orapa.
Using the Avontuur plant will save 6 to 9 months in construction time for the new plant and will also reduce capital costs. The Avontuur plant has a capacity of 25 tonnes per hour headfeed and will allow large bulk samples to be processed rapidly.
It is expected that the plant will be on site in Orapa by the
end of 2008 and ready to process material in early 2009.
The Company is pleased to announce that it has entered into agreements with SouthernEra International Limited (‘SouthernEra’), a wholly owned subsidiary of Mwana Africa plc, and SouthernEra’s Botswana joint venture partner, under which Firestone can acquire an 87.5% interest in the BK16 kimberlite in return for carrying all costs to completion of bankable feasibility and a cash payment of ┬ú60,000. This will bring the number of kimberlites in Firestone’s Orapa licence areas to 10.
BK16 is situated approximately 22 kilometers north east of BK11 and 12 kilometers north of the Letlhakane Mine. SouthernEra will retain a carried 12.5% interest in the project to completion of bankable feasibility.