Lucapa Diamond Company has started commercial diamond production at its new 1.1 million tonne per annum (Mtpa) treatment plant at the Mothae kimberlite diamond mine in Lesotho.
The company owns a 70% interest in the project and the Government of Lesotho holds the remaining 30%.
According to Lucapa Diamond Company managing director Stephen Wetherall, the commencement of commercial recoveries is a significant milestone in the company’s strategic development plan.
Wetherall said: “Lucapa is on track to become one of a few listed diamond companies globally with production from more than one operating mine. The high-quality nature of this production from Lulo and Mothae will also enable the group to further its value-enhancing downstream strategy through partnerships with global diamantaires, where discussions are well advanced.”
The new Mothae treatment plant uses two XRT diamond recovery modules designed to recover large and rare Type IIa diamonds.
Lucapa is working on ramping up the plant to its maximum capacity of 1.1Mtpa.
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Production from the Mothae kimberlite mine is expected to complement Lucapa’s 40% operated Lulo mine in Angola, which is claimed to host the world’s highest average dollar-per-carat alluvial diamonds.
The Mothae mine development plans involve a two-phase programme.
It expects to double production from the mine to 2.2Mtpa in 2021, under the second phase.
The project is located within 5km of Gem Diamonds’ Letseng diamond mine. Lucapa recovered over 4,100 carats of diamonds from the bulk sampling of areas within the Mothae kimberlite zone.
Furthermore, the company unveiled plans to undertake drilling of kimberlite targets at the Orapa Area F project in Orapa diamond field in Botswana in the first quarter of next year.