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Mothae unearths more gems

by Lesotho Times
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Herbert Moyo

LUCAPA Diamond Company Limited this week reported the recovery of a 28 carat ‘special’ diamond and two light pink diamonds from its bulk sampling programme at its Mothae Mine as limited mining continues ahead of the commencement of full scale mining operations.

The diamond recoveries come on the back of last week’s recovery of an 11, 88 carat diamond which was also preceded by the recovery of an 89-carat yellow diamond last month. The 89-carat stone is the company’s biggest after it dug up a 25-carat yellow gem in May this year.

In a statement to the Lesotho Times this week, Lucapa Diamonds Managing Director, Stephen Wetherall, said the diamond recoveries were extremely encouraging and validated Lucapa’s decision to commit to a bulk sampling programme ahead of full scale mining which is set to commence before the end of the year.

“Lucapa Diamond Company Limited and the government of Lesotho are pleased to provide an update on diamond recoveries from the ongoing bulk sampling programme at the Mothae diamond mine in Lesotho,” Mr Wetherall said.

“The latest special recoveries (of individual diamonds greater than 10.8 carats) include a 28-carat stone from the north zone of the Mothae kimberlite pipe. This follows the recovery of other specials including an 89-carat yellow diamond from the south-east zone, a 25-carat yellow diamond from the Neck zone and a 12-carat white diamond from the North zone of the mine.

“Significantly, the recent recoveries from the north zone also include two light pink diamonds. These recoveries, together with the recovery of a 3 carat pink diamond in the historic bulk sampling conducted in 2008 to 2012 which was announced on 31 January 2017 are proof that Mothae also hosts pink diamonds.”

Mothae Mine is located close to the high dollar-per carat gem producer, Letšeng Diamonds in Mokhotlong. It was put up for sale by the government in February 2016 after prospective buyer, Paragon Diamonds Limited, failed to secure the requisite funding within the given time frame.

In April 2017, the government awarded mining rights to the Australia-based Lucapa Diamond Company to develop the mine which had been idle since 2015. Lucapa owns 70 percent of Mothae Mine while the government holds the remaining 30 percent shares.

Company documents seen by the Lesotho Times indicate that the trial mining at Mothae, since Lucapa took over, had produced more than 23 000 carats of diamonds with sales exceeding US$17 million.

This led Lucapa to draw up a development plan in October 2017, which outlines proposals to move into phased commercial production in the second half of this year.

Lucapa had budgeted US$17 million to commence Phase 1 of full scale mining in 2018. Phase 1 of mining will run from 2018 to 2021.

The company documents show that Lucapa have secured an additional US$15 million (M195 million) financing loan to develop Phase 1 of the Mothae kimberlite diamond mining project.

Phase 1 is 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 US34, 1 million while those for Phase 2 have been pegged at US$307, 8 million.

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