Thursday, February 29, 2024

Lucara does it again

Lucara’s star continued to shine this week, with another announcement of a large diamond found at its gem churning mine in Botswana.

The Canadian miner on Friday morning disclosed that it has recovered a 393.5 carat top white Type IIa gem quality diamond from its wholly owned Karowe, with the latest gem discovered from ore sourced from the M/PK(S) unit of the South Lobe. 

“Lucara is pleased to announce the recovery of the 393 carat Type IIa white from the M/PK(S) unit of the South Lobe, the third +300 carat white gem from the M/PK(S) in 2021. This recent recovery continues to demonstrate the strong and consistent resource performance of the South Lobe. The 393 carat and 156 carat diamonds add to the collection of significant diamond recoveries in 2021, as Lucara looks to ramp up construction activities for the proposed underground expansion at Karowe,” said Lucara’s chief executive officer Eira Thomas in a statement. 

Just last week,  Lucara dazzled the world with a  recovery of a 62.7 carat fancy pink diamond from the Karowe mine. The diamond, described as a high-quality, fancy pink, Type IIa gem, has been given the name “Boitumelo” meaning “Joy” in Setswana. The  company says 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 most recently a 1,174-carat diamond discovered on June 23, considered the world’s third largest diamond behind the Sewelô diamond.

Earlier this month, Lucara announced that it has signed loan documentation in relation to project financing debt package of $220 million (P2.3 billion) through a syndicate of five mandated lead arrangers (“MLAs”). The MLAs are: African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank), Africa Finance Corp., ING, Natixis, and Societe Generale, London Branch. 

The funds will be made available to Lucara by way of a senior secured term loan facility in the principal amount of up to $170 million, termed ‘project facility’ and a senior secured revolving credit facility in the principal amount of up to $50 million. 

The proceeds will be used  to expand the prolific Karowe mine, with plans to turn the open pit mine into an underground operation over the first year of a five-year period. The underground project has an estimated capital cost of $534 million (P5.4 billion) over the  five-year construction period.

Lucara’s 2021 budget for the underground project contemplates approximately $100 million (P1 billion) of capital expenditures and an additional $20 million (P200 million) of contingency funds. The company says it will fund this  through $34 million(P340 million) drawn down from the loans and $30 million (P300 million) from selling shares to investors, and with the remaining balance coming from cash flow from operations.

Lucara has also recently raised funds through share offering to investors, raising  gross proceeds of approximately $32.6 million (P330 million), raising more than the company initially anticipated. 


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