The company will stay at Karowe, the site known for exceptionally large stones, up to 2046
The Ministry of Mineral Resources, Green Technology and Energy Security has extended the mining licence of Lucara’s by 25 years, Lucara has announced.
According to a recent statement signed by president and CEO of Lucara, Eira Thomas, the renewal – which was effected on 4 January 2021 and will end in 2046 – marks a critical step in the formal sanction of the Karowe underground expansion project.
“This paves the way for the completion of a supplemental debt financing and full project sanction later this year,” Thomas stated in the statement. “Lucara is grateful for the confidence and support demonstrated by the Government of Botswana as we work to expand our operations at Karowe underground for the benefit of the government and the people of Botswana together with Lucara’s shareholders.”
He stated that the Karowe underground expansion project, which continued to advance in 2020 under a revised US$22 million budget in response to COVID-19, focused on time critical path items, detailed engineering and design, and limited earth works and geotechnical studies.
“The company continues to explore debt financing options for the underground expansion for those amounts which are expected to exceed the company’s cash flow from operations during the construction period,” he said. “The company anticipates financing to be in place by the second half of this year. The underground expansion programme has an estimated capital cost of $514 million and a five-year period of development, with first ore anticipated from underground in 2026.”
Located in Letlhakane in the Central District of Botswana, Karowe Mine is well known for producing large exceptional quality Type IIa diamonds. In November last year, Lucara announced that they had found a 998-carat high white diamond, which is among the five largest stones ever discovered. In 2015, the 1,109-carat Lesedi La Rona was found at the mine and subsequently sold for $53 million. The mine has also yielded an 813-carat constellation stone that fetched a record $63 million.