LUCAPA Diamond Company Limited this week reported diamond recoveries from its bulk sampling programme at its Mothae Mine, the largest being a 6, 6 carat diamond, as limited mining continues ahead of the commencement of full scale mining operations.
In a statement to the Lesotho Times this week, Lucapa Diamonds Managing Director, Stephen Wetherall, said the diamonds were recovered from the bulking sampling plant which has been refurbished ahead of its March 2018 schedule as the company intensifies its preparations for full scale mining which is set to commence in the second half of the year.
“Lucapa Diamonds is pleased to report the first diamond recoveries from the Mothae Kimberlite Mine in Lesotho,” wrote Mr Wetherall.
“The largest of the diamonds recovered in the first test run was 6.6 carats. The diamonds were recovered through the bulk sampling plant and infrastructure at Mothae which has been refurbished ahead of schedule as part of the previously announced bulk sampling programme.
“The initial diamond recoveries which were sourced from residual material and kimberlite stockpiles were observed during a site visit to Mothae by Lucapa representatives, advisors, brokers and investors following the Mining Indaba which was held in South Africa.”
The Mining Indaba which brings together government officials, mining companies, experts and other stakeholders from all over the world to deliberate and network on mining issues, was held in Cape Town from 5 to 8 February this year.
In his presentation at the Mining Indaba last Tuesday, Mr Wetherall revealed that the company had recorded significant gains during the trial mining period which followed Lucapa’s acquisition of a 70 percent stake in the Mothae Mine in April 2017.
“Extensive trial mining of more than 600 000 tonnes of ore demonstrates that Mothae hosts large and premium-value diamonds and 23 400 carats were recovered from trial mining with sales of US$17 million. The sale prices were up to US$41 500 per carat,” Mr Wetherall stated in his presentation which is titled ‘Lucapa Diamond Company: A growing producer of large and premium value diamonds’.
In his communication to this publication this week, Mr Wetherall said the bulk sampling programme was “designed to provide additional resource and diamond data to expand the life of the mine while also generating early cash flows before full scale mining begins”.
He further stated that “the construction of the new 150 tonne per hour (90 000 tonnes per month) diamond treatment plant, including an X-Ray transmission diamond recovery technology (XRT) continues and remains on schedule for full commissioning and commercial production in the second half of 2018”.
Lucapa has a US$17 million budget for Phase 1 of full scale mining which will run from 2018 to 2021.
The company also secured an additional US$15 million (M195 million) financing loan to develop Phase 1 operations which are expected to generate gross revenue earnings of US$79, 6 million while Phase 2 which will run from 2022 to 2031 will generate gross revenue earnings of US$697 million.
Lucapa is expected to incur royalties and marketing costs of US$5, 6 million for Phase 1 and US$48, 8 million for Phase 2.
Operating costs for Phase 1 have been pegged at US$34, 1 million while those for Phase 2 have been pegged at US$307, 8 million.