Emerging diamond mining giant, Lucara Botswana, after completing a feasibility study for Karowe Mine underground project anticipates to start operational mining in 2025.
The project is expected to increase the life of the mine to 2041. This was confirmed by the Minister of Minerals Resources, Green Technology and Energy, Lefoko Moagi telling Parliament recently.
Lucara Botswana Managing Director (MD) Naseem Lahri also confirmed that underground development will double the mine life from original 2010 feasibility study.
She stated that resource work completed since November 2017 identified a much larger economic opportunity at depth, on the basis of new drilling and open pit recoveries. She added that the UG would add $4 billion in additional net revenue.
“Numerous global diamond mines are reaching their end of life so supply will be limited; Lucara will be a key supply going forward,” said Lahri.
She revealed that due to COVID-19, the underground expansion program has been re-scoped and reduced from the previous budget of $53 million and will focus on long lead time critical-path items through the remainder of the year.
She further stated that during H1 2020, $5.6 million was spent on project execution activities.
These included detailed engineering and design work and early procurement initiatives. She said the underground expansion program has an estimated capital cost of $514 million and a five-year period of development, with flexibility to adjust capital spending depending on market conditions.
“A Covid-19 task team is in place at Lucara Botswana, responsible for providing regular updates, driving action items and escalation of any identified challenges. Permission to test for COVID 19 at the mine is key. We await approval to be able to do testing on our mine site as it is key in assisting with keeping the numbers at bay,” she said.
She said currently procurement of isolation pods is underway for use in case of a suspected case within the pine.
She said a porta cabin has been identified for that purpose should the need arise and added that isolation pods have been identified to be placed for the community.
Lahri stated that due to travel restrictions, no diamond viewings are able to be held in Botswana. She said temporary permission received from the Botswana government to export and sell diamonds from Antwerp. She stated that tender held in early June 2020 and planned for September for diamonds less than 10.8 carats in size, agreement with HB (company in Antwerp) in place to sell diamonds >10.8cts for the remainder of 2020.
“Sales are continuing through the Clara Platform. Underground expansion plans re-scoped and reduced to focus on long lead time critical-path items for the remainder of year. 2020 guidance remains suspended due to current market uncertainties,” she stated.