Sunday, July 5, 2020

LUCARA DOES IT AGAIN, AND AGAIN…

The Canadian miner Lucara has once again recovered two massive diamonds at its prolific Karowe Mine, which continues to be a source of large quality gems, aided in part by the company’s technology that allows it to extract diamonds without breaking them up.

On Wednesday, Lucara excitedly announced that  the recovery of a 123 carat gem quality top white Type II diamond from direct milling ore sourced from the EM/PK(S) unit of the Karowe South Lobe. The latest find was recovered from the same site that delivered several other high value diamonds including the 1,109 carat Lesedi La Rona, the 813 carat Constellation and the recently recovered 1,758 carat Sewelô, the company said.

The junior miner further disclosed how its investment in the XRT technology is paying off, announcing that it recovered a 375 carat gem quality from processing the mining waste that was mined before the technology was implemented.

“Lucara is pleased with the continued strong performance of the mine and the consistent recovery of large, high quality diamonds that contribute more than 70% of Lucara’s total revenues. Attendance at our sales remains high, a testament to our well-established client base and Karowe’s production profile, which continues to be well regarded and sought after in the marketplace,” said Eira Thomas, Lucara’s chief executive officer.

According to the company, Karowe continues to have strong production performance year to date, with recovery from direct milling ore of 22 individual, over 100 carat diamonds, including 6 greater than 200 carats, and the historic 1,758 carat Sewelô diamond, the largest ever diamond to be recovered in Botswana. Year to date, from all processing, the mine has produced 29 diamonds which are greater 100 carats, including 8 diamonds greater than 200 carats.

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.

Karowe mine, commissioned in July 2012, has been responsible for a total of 63 diamonds in excess of 200 carats which have been recovered, including 13 diamonds larger than 300 carats in size.

Following Lucara’s success in unearthing large quality diamonds, the Botswana government has indicated its desire to invest in the miner, with President Mokgweetsi Masisi saying such investment will accrue value to the country. Botswana is already in a 50 percent joint venture with mining giant De Beers, one of the longest and enduring public private partnership known, and has been hailed as a success story.

Meanwhile, the company has recently said that the market for both rough and polished diamonds remains challenging due to an excess supply of polished diamonds and reduced credit available in the mid-stream of the supply chain. Liquidity issues and concerns over manufacturers’ profitability have resulted in weaker demand, while global trade disputes and unrest are also contributing  factors,resulting in lower prices for rough diamonds. Weaker demand has been reported across all size classes and larger producers are withholding goods or allowing their customers to defer rough diamond allocations.

“Due to an increase in recoveries of smaller-sized diamonds and overall improved mine call factor, we have increased the number of diamonds that are expected to be recovered and sold during 2019. While the increase in the

number of carats recovered and expected to be sold in 2019 should have a positive economic impact, revenues for the year remained unchanged at $170 million to $200 million,” the company said on its outlook for the rest of the year.

“A majority of the Company’s revenue comes from the sale of large, single stones in excess of 10.8 carats; the additional recoveries are in the smaller size classes. Following an increase in ore tonnes mined which had previously been classified as waste during Q1 2019, we have also increased guidance for total ore tonnes mined. No other changes have been made to the 2019 outlook previously provided.”

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Sunday Standard June 28 – 4 July

Digital copy of Sunday Standard issue of June 28 - 4 July, 2020.