Lucara Diamond Corp on Monday put smiles on the faces of its shareholders when it reported it had recovered high value carats from its Karowe mine in Botswana, adding it will have its first sale of diamonds during the first two weeks of June 2012.
In an update, the Botswana Stock Exchange (BSE) listed mining outfit added that the mine process plant ore commissioning is progressing according to schedule.
Lucara said the quantity and grade of diamonds recovered during the very first ore run has been outstanding and reinforces our high expectations for this new state-of-the-art mine.
The company’s CEO, William Lamb said the successful ore commissioning and recovery of the first production diamonds, especially including some high quality large diamonds, is an exciting time for the entire construction and operations team.
“The diamonds recovered show some very strong crystal shapes which we look forward to providing to the market in June,” Lamb said.
“Diamond production and the processing of ore through the entire plant signals the transition of Lucara to a producing company – this is a very proud moment for us all,” he added.
The company recovered over 5,300 carats of diamonds from ore mined from the upper benches of the North Lobe of the deposit, which has an estimated grade of greater than 32 carats per hundred tonnes (cpht) which is double the average deposit grade.
Several large diamonds have also been recovered, including 4 special stones larger than 10.8 carats. The three largest stones recovered are 25.88 carats, 16.55 carats and 14.56 carats.
Scheduled ore commissioning activities, which include specific run-time tests on the autogenous mill, will continue through April with the facilities progressively being handed over to the operations team. Production will continue to ramp up to full capacity through Q2.
Lucara also said it has signed a definitive agreement with The Bank of Nova Scotia (Scotiabank) for a US$25 million revolving term credit facility with a maturity date of March 16, 2014, which may be extended.
Up to $15 million is available immediately with the remaining $10 million available following delivery of security over the company’s Karowe assets which are expected during the second quarter of this year.
The facility contains financial and non-financial covenants customary for a facility of this size and nature.
The applicable interest rate of any loan under the facility will be determined by the Company’s leverage ratio at any given time. The two-year facility will be secured by the Company’s Karowe assets and guaranteed by its subsidiaries, which hold the Karowe assets.
The Company intends to use the facility to fund ongoing operations, primarily at the Karowe Mine in Botswana.