The Lucara Diamond owned Karowe Mine will adopt new X-Ray Transmission (XRT) technology, minimizing diamond damage, as part of the production mainstay says Lucara Diamond President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) William Lamb.
During a media briefing in Gaborone on November 3, the Canadian-based Lamb who was on a flying visit to Botswana said part of the upgrade is expected to be complete in Q2, 2015, enabling Lucara to sell in excess of 400,000 carats in 2014 and 2015. However, an early Large Diamond Recovery circuit is currently being commissioned.
The forward-looking CEO explained: “The focus of one of the diamond industry’s latest technology-driven processing plant upgrade is to adjust the process to enable efficient processing of harder, higher yielding material; modify the circuit to allow for the safe recovery of large diamonds: a mainstay of Karowe production. The upgrade to the plant is being completed while maintaining steady production.”
The 2014 Capital Plant Optimization Project (PCOP) is comprised of a pebble crusher bleed screen XRT units being installed on site, construction activities for bleed screen, XRT sorting systems, tertiary crushing and tailings disposal, he said.
The first diamond sale took place in June 2012 with viewings in Gaborone. Prior to the Diamond Trading Company (DTC) relocating from London to Gaborone in 2013 and the establishment of Okavango Diamond Company (ODC) sales processes in Botswana, Lucara held viewings in both Gaborone and Antwerp. To date, 22 diamond tenders have been held with over 800,000 carats being sold. Attendances at tenders have markedly increased based on a higher appreciation for the transparency and quality of the tenders.
The first diamond recovered, 1.04c; 9.46ct blue diamond was sold in Nov 2012; and the sale of a 239ct diamond in the first Exceptional Stone Tender.
The quality has continued to improve in the diamonds sold in the second Exceptional Stone Tender of 2014. Lucara Management focus on Karowe sales involves transition to sales in Gaborone in 2015; sale of 400,000 – 420,000 carats with 7 sales per year. Exceptional Stones Tenders will be held when recoveries warrant. The focus is to; however, provide consistent high quality products to the market. Sales lots have been developed to provide assortments that match clientele needs.
The possibility that Lucara will start selling from its Mothae mine in late 2015 is not a far-fetched dream.
Lucara which is headquartered in Vancouver, Canada has offices in London, Gaborone and Maseru. Apart from the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX), Lucara is also listed on NASDAQ OMX (Sweden) and BSE, Botswana. Lucara, a member of the Lundin Group of Companies has a share issue of 379 million, 381M fully diluted; Market Cap of C$ 875 million as of October 2014.
De Beers first discovered an AK6 kimberlite in 1969, but it was considered small and low grade. Between 1986 and 1998, Debswana undertook small amounts of work, with no conclusive results.
The prospecting license was transferred to the Boteti Joint Venture, De Beers / African Diamonds in October 2004 and a mining License application was awarded in October 2008.
At the time Lucara got involved, they acquired a 70% stake in the AK6 project from De Beers Prospecting Botswana in December 2009. Lucara acquired African Diamonds in Dec 2010 to hold 100% of the asset.
On completion of the feasibility study in July 2010, project construction approval in August 2010 and adoption of $120M capital cost based on an 18 month construction schedule, site construction started in September 2010: AK6 Project became the Karowe Mine.
However, when Lucara acquired a stake in the Karowe project in Q4, 2009 it was composed of two sample trenches.
According to Lamb, Lucara having looked at the best in industry mining and processing practice, they then transformed Karowe into an innovative process plant utilizing autogeneous milling to maximize liberation and revenue recovery.