Mothae digs up 204-carat diamond

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Bereng Mpaki

MOTHAE diamond mine has recovered a massive 204-carat diamond.

The white stone recovered last week is the mine’s third larger than 200 carats diamond and eighth over 100 carats to date.

The mine, which is 75 owned by Australia Stock Exchange (ASX) listed Lucapa Diamond Company and 25 percent owned by the government, began operating in 2019.

Mothae mine is one of the four operational diamonds mines in the country along with Letšeng, Kao and Liqhobong mines.

“Lucapa Diamond Company Limited (ASX: LOM) (“Lucapa” or “the Company”) and its partner, the Government of the Kingdom of Lesotho, is pleased to announce the recovery of a 204-carat diamond from the Mothae mine in Lesotho,” Lucapa said in a statement yesterday.

“The 204-carat white stone is the eighth +100 carat (over 100 carat) diamond and third +200 carat to be recovered from the Mothae mine since commercial mining commenced in January 2019, underlining its unique large stone nature.”

The mine’s production has been gradually rising following its resumption of operations in October 2020 after a six-months’ suspension of work as a result of the Covid-19 lockdown restrictions.

According to Lucapa’s 2021 annual report, Mothae mine recovered 32 470 carats in 2021, representing a new annual record and an increase of 141 percent over the previous pandemic affected year.

“Recoveries included 628 stones weighing more than 4, 8 carats, of which 168 were specials. The largest stone recovered for the year was a 215-carat D colour Type IIa stone recovered in February.

“Although the unplanned first quarter shutdowns and reduced throughput in the fourth quarter had a negative effect on the total annual throughput, Mothae still set annual records for carats produced and revenues generated, and in combination with the strength of a more balanced diamond market, achieved an EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortisation) of US$5, 6 million (A$7, 6 million) for 2021 (2020: US$1, 1 million (A$1, 5 million) loss). Lucapa’s attributable portion amounted to US$3, 9 million (A$5, 3 million).

“Over the course of the year, the project to move the camp to a new location outside of the pit blast zone was completed and the old camp location is in the process of being rehabilitated,” the report said.

A project to test the suitability and overall benefits of mechanical continuous mining as opposed to conventional drill and blast was initiated during the latter part of the year and is due for completion during the first quarter of 2022, the report said.

If shown to be suitable, the report said, the technology has the potential to bring with it operational and cost improvements in mining the kimberlite at Mothae, as well as having additional processing benefits.

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