Sunday, May 29, 2022

Lucara Diamonds listing “on target” ÔÇô source

Lucara Diamond, the Canadian-based junior diamond mining outfit is inches away from being admitted for a secondary listing on the Botswana Stock Exchange (BSE), setting it to fulfill its target of entering the open-cry market before the end of the month.

The mining outfit, which aimed at operating the highest quality diamond pipe-line — outside Debswana Diamond Company in the country — was praised by close sources who said that its bid to flout on the BSE before the end of the month “is as good as done”.

“We think there will be a definitive statement in the coming days,” a source said Friday.

The proposed listing of Lucara Diamond is to shore-up the image of the BSE and the country as the best destination to do mining business in the African continentÔÇösomething that has been endorsed by other private research institutions.

Lucara Diamond is due to start operations at the lucrative AK6 proposed mine in the next two monthsÔÇöan area with type II diamonds, similar to the Letlhakane mine ÔÇô coming second to Jwaneng mine in terms of quality.

Botswana is the world’s leading diamond producer by value and has been dubbed “the best diamond address in the world and the street name being Orapa” by the current Executive Chairman of Botswana Diamonds whose previous company used to own AK 6.

“We will be producing around 400, 000 carats from next year,” Anthony George said, adding that his Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX), listed company was to be upgraded to the main board to prime it for the major developments.

The company is currently focused on Botswana and Lesotho operations and is building up to support the Botswana government’s initiative of promoting parallel diamond marketing plan from De Beers’ controlled Diamond Trading Centre (DTC).

The mine will be 15 kilometres south-west of the Letlhakane Village and bring the total number of operating mines in that area to five. Debswana owns three while Firestone Diamond owns BK 11 that started operation from last year.

The mine will employ about 400 people and over its 12-year life-span will yield about 6.1 million carats ÔÇô of type II quality which is similar to that of Letlhakane mine.
Lucara Diamond bought the AK 6 projectÔÇönear Orapa — from the former African Diamonds, which has been baptised and re-named Botswana Diamonds.

“AK 6 will come on stream in October/ November this year and will reach full capacity by early next year,” executive chairman of Botswana Diamonds, John Teeling, said early this year.

AK 6 was sold to Lucara Diamonds in December but the newly-formed Botswana Diamonds has 30 percent stake. The AK6 fell into the hands of the Toronto Stock Exchange listed Lucara Diamonds in December last year when African Diamonds sold it.

Teeling said that the development of AK 6 came at the right time when diamond prices are at its peak. Botswana government has seen record breaking sales since the beginning of the year, totaling close to P 12 billion.

“Diamond prices are now higher than ever in history and the demand is coming from Asia,” he said.

AK 6 is some 15 kilometers south-west of Letlhakane village and will bring the number of mines in the area to five. Debswana owns three mines while Firestone Diamonds and Lucara will be one each.

The exploration exercise at AK 6 was carried out by De Beers following the joint venture found out, through the use of its new technology, that the kimberliteÔÇöthe volcanic rock deposit containing diamonds ÔÇô was much larger than originally thought.

It also contained the rare nitrogen free gemstone deposits found in 45- carat Hope diamond in the Smithsonian in New York and Cullinan diamonds which are part of the Crown Jewels.

The rare nitrogen free gemstone deposits is concentrated at the southern loop of the earmarked mine and, according to geologists, is expected to yield some larger stones, which are presently in short supply due to the aging mines.

AK6 has been praised by the diamond community as one of the “exciting projects” at a time the world is faced with the dwindling supply of gemstones as old mines are aging, leading to demand and supply gap.

He said that China and India are the future drivers of the diamonds market as young women in those countries would be looking at having diamond rings.

“The other thing is that they do have a huge middle class that has got access to disposable cash,” he said.

He said India middle class is made up of some 400 million people while China stands at 250 million.


Read this week's paper