Diamond producer, ASX-listed Lucapa Diamond Company Limited (LOM) says the Company has begun to “shine bright” in the world of Special diamonds.
The Company’s CEO and Managing Director, Mr. Stephen Wetherell, told the first day today of the three-day Pay dirt Africa Down Under (ADU) mining conference in Perth that Lucapa was making “giant strides” at its flagship Lulo diamond project in Angola.
It is also on track with the development of the Mothae kimberlite project in Lesotho and has recently reported “staggering” drilling results at its Little Spring Creek discovery in the Kimberley region of Western Australia.
At Mothae, in which Lucapa has acquired a 70% interest, the Company is constructing a 1.1mt pa diamond treatment plant, complete with XRT recovery technology. Part of a Phase 1 development program, the Mothae plant is scheduled to commence high-value production later this year.
Lucapa, which is developing Mothae in partnership with the Government of Lesotho, is also refurbishing a bulk sampling plant and the Company has commenced testing additional areas of the kimberlite pipe. The Company has already recovered a number of large Special diamonds, including two yellow diamonds weighing 89 carats and 25 carats from the bulk sampling program.
Mr Wetherall told the ADU audience that the plant at Mothae is on schedule for H2 2018 commissioning.
The initial financial model for the Mothae plant supports production of 1.1 Mtpa in Phase 1 and 2.2 Mtpa in Phase 2, which is targeted for a 2021 start-up. The project has a current estimated mine life of 13.5 years, with a project NPV of approximately US$85 million.
At the Lulo project, already a prolific producer of large and premium-value alluvial diamonds, Lucapa and its partners continue to advance a search for the primary kimberlite sources of these exceptional alluvial gems, with three drill rigs available in the ongoing kimberlite exploration program.
Mr Wetherall said Lulo has produced 11 +100ct diamonds to date and is home to the highest US$ per carat alluvial diamond production and to some of the best and largest diamonds in the world, including the two largest diamonds ever produced in Angola.
Lucapa’s kimberlite exploration operation is aiming to locate the primary source(s) of the alluvial diamonds it is currently mining
Mr Wetherall said a large number of big kimberlite targets have already been drilled underlying the vast alluvial fields.
An ongoing, all year-round exploration campaign includes a drilling program which is extracting core for mineral chemistry analysis
To date, 54 targets have been drilled, with 40 of those confirmed as kimberlite, and a number of targets have been identified for follow up.
Mr Wetherall told the ADU audience that Lucapa has recently achieved exceptional results at its Little Spring Creek discovery in Western Australia, with a new drill hole returning 1,100 diamonds, including 18 macro-diamonds and 1,082 micro-diamonds.
“The latest micro-diamond results from the Little Spring Creek prospect within the Brooking project are some of the best I have seen in the diamond space. To recover 1,100 micro- and macro- diamonds from a 178kg sample from a single drill hole is remarkable,” Mr Wetharall said.
“These exceptional results at Brooking underscore the prospectivity for diamond deposits in the Kimberley region of WA, which hosts the world-renowned deposits of Argyle and previously Ellendale. We look forward to the next phase of exploration at Brooking with great excitement.”
Mr Wetherall also revealed that Lucapa is investigating opportunities to expand its business outside of mining and exploration.
Opportunities under investigation include a move into the cutting and polishing sector of the diamond value chain.
Mr Wetherall said the cutting and polishing of stones would provide Lucapa’s mines with access to margins beyond mine gate on select or bespoke high-value diamonds and will also provide rough price protection, along with an additional downstream income.