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Lucara recovers 127 carat white gem diamond

Publishing Date : 21 January, 2019

Author : REARABILWE RAMAPHANE

Canadian based top gem producer, Lucara Diamond Corporation last week announced another watershed recovery from its Botswana flagship mine, Karowe located in the lucrative Boteti diamond fields.  In a statement released by the Botswana Stock Exchange (BSE) listed corporation, which wholly owns and operate Karowe announced the recovery of a 127 carat, top white gem diamond.


Since mining began at Karowe in 2012, a total of 129 diamonds in excess of 100 carats have been recovered, 33 in 2018 alone. That tally includes 12 diamonds larger than 300 carats in size, of which five were recovered in 2018.  In addition, Lucara has sold 180 diamonds in excess of $1 million (P10.5 million) each and ten diamonds have sold for in excess of $10 million (P105 million) each.

 
When commenting on the recovery Eira Thomas, Lucara President and Chief Executive Officer said her company’s latest unearthing of this high value, top white 127 carat diamond attests to the remarkable nature of the Karowe ore body, which has consistently dispatched large, high value diamonds throughout its history. “2018 was an incredible year for our mining operation, having recovered a record number of Special diamonds of 10.8 carats in size,” said Thomas.


Lucara chief further shared that in 2019, Korowe’s mining will be largely focused on the high value south lobe, including contributions from the newly refined EMPKS unit which is now understood to be the source of both the historic 1109 carat Lesedi la Rona and the 813 carat Constellation, which sold for a record US$63.1 million (P660 million).  The Karowe Diamond mine currently boasts of its open pit reserves of 2.6 million carats extending out to 2026 and is in the process of completing a feasibility study that could expand mining underground to 2036 and beyond.


Lucara reports that another budget of $14.8 million (P155 million) has been approved to complete a feasibility study that was initiated last year, evaluating the potential for an underground mining operation at the mine.  “Work undertaken in 2018 under a budget of approximately $29 million (P304 million) has significantly de-risked the project and in 2019, efforts will focus on follow up geotechnical and hydrogeological drilling and related studies,” shared Eira Thomas in statements released last week Friday.


Lucara hinted this possibility in their Quarter 3 results last year when they received promising feedback from the underground feasibility study. According to the Vancouver headquartered Diamond Corporation, an updated mineral resource was announced for the AK06 kimberlite during 2018 Q2. The updated Mineral Resource Estimate was completed by Mineral Services Canada Inc.


 The estimate is based on historical evaluation data combined with new sampling results of microdiamond, bulk density and petrography from recent deep core drilling and from historical drill cores.  Lucara further explains that new delineation drill coverage and review of historical drill cores supported an update of the internal geological model.


Production data   which includes a controlled production run from the Eastern magmatic-pyroclastic kimberlite and recent sales-valuation results have been incorporated into the grade and value estimates, which have been made based on an updated model of process plant recovery efficiency. The in situ Mineral Reserve for AK06with an effective date of May 25, 2018 is within the probable category containing 19.84 Million tonnes with a recoverable grade of 13.08 carats per hundred tonne for 2.60 Million carats with an average price per carat of $ 624/ct.


“Life of Mine and Working stockpiles contribute an additional 5.56 Million tonnes with a recoverable grade of 6.7 carats per hundred tonne with an average price of $625/ct. The recoverable grade is based on the updated Mineral Resource estimate as presented in the technical report (1.25 mm bottom cut off size - BCOS) at 70 percent of in situ carats at 1.00 mm bottom cut off size.


Last week Lucara also released their future projections going forward. In 2019, the company forecasts revenues between $170 million (1.8 billion) and $200 million (2.1 billion), consistent with the forecast for 2018. These projections include “Specials” which are diamonds that are 10.8 carats and larger but exclude the sale of any truly unique diamonds such as the 1,109 carat Lesedi la Rona and the 813 carat Constellation.


Specials are consistently recovered from the Karowe diamond mine and contribute a significant percentage of the Company’s annual revenue. Diamonds recovered are expected to be between 300,000 carats and 330,000 carats and diamonds sold are expected to be between 300,000 carats and 320,000 carats.  Thomas says having stabilized and significantly improved its mining operations at Karowe in 2018; Lucara is now focused on optimizing the base business and pursuing a suite of high potential, organic growth opportunities.


 “The completion of a feasibility study examining the potential for underground production and Life of Mine expansion at Karowe from 2026 until at least 2036, remains a top priority for 2019,” she said. Lucara Boss also added that her company will continue to systematically ramp up diamond sales through Clara, the company’s transformational, proprietary digital sales platform that successfully completed its first trial sale in December 2018.


“Our focus at Karowe in 2019 will be on driving operational efficiencies, increased productivity and cost control, and maximizing cash flow. The waste stripping bottleneck is now behind us and we expect stripping ratios to steadily improve towards the end of the calendar year, enabling improved access to high value, south lobe ore,” she said.

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