Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Lucara buoyant about 2022

Lucara Diamond Corp, which owns the large gem churning Karowe mine, has upped its targets as it anticipates strong diamond sales on the back of positive sentiments which have spurred strong demand for the shiny stones.


The diamond industry, which went in recession in 2017, is shinning bright as it returns to its glory days, thanks to a resurgence this year. In turn, Lucara has forecasted that it will mine between 300,000 to 340,000 carats in 2022, and the rough diamonds are expected to fetch between $185 million to $215 million.


“The business environment for diamonds and diamond jewellery is the healthiest we’ve seen in several years, spurred on by an improvement in global supply and demand fundamentals, a trend which is expected to continue,” said Lucara’s chief executive officer Eira Thomas.


The strong projection for next year comes as the Karowe mine continues to impress, recovering three top white gem quality diamonds, 341 carats, 378 carats and the 393.5 carats earlier this year. In July, Lucara dazzled the world with an announcement of a 62.7 carat pink diamond, described as a high-quality, fancy pink, Type IIa gem, and given the name “Boitumelo”. The company said the 62.7 carat Boitumelo diamond is the largest fancy pink gem to be recovered in Botswana and one of the world’s largest rough pink diamonds on record.


The latest discoveries join a collection of significant diamond recoveries produced from the south lobe which forms a key economic driver for the proposed underground mine. Karowe mine, commissioned in July 2012, has been responsible for more than 63 diamonds in excess of 200 carats which have been recovered, including 13 diamonds larger than 300 carats in size. The historic recoveries include the 549 carat Sethunya, 998 carat, 1758 carat Sewelô, the 1109 carat Lesedi La Rona, the 342 carat Queen of the Kalahari, and the 1,174-carat diamond discovered in June 2021, considered the world’s third largest diamond behind the Sewelô diamond.


In July, the company revealed that it has agreed to a $220 million loan facility through a syndicate of five mandated lead arrangers: African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank), Africa Finance Corp., ING, Natixis, and Societe Generale, London Branch. In addition, Lucara raised funds through share offering to investors, getting approximately $32.6 million.


The Karowe mine has been a profitable acquisition for Lucara after it bought 70 percent of the mine in 2009 from De Beers for just $49 million. It later acquired 100 percent ownership of the mine when it bought African Diamonds for $70.3 million in stock. Since then, Karowe mine has been a rare source of exceptional diamonds with its consistent recovery of large high value diamonds. Although it produces less than 1 percent of world’s diamonds, the mine is recovering more than 50 percent of the world’s diamonds larger than 100 carats.

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