Australia-based diamond miner Lucapa has begun commercial recoveries at its Mothae kimberlite mine in Lesotho.

By the end of December quarter, 3,089 carats of diamonds were recovered from processing of 78,426 tonnes of ore, including six diamonds weighing up to 78 carats.

These diamonds included D-colour white diamonds weighing 78 carats and 38 carats.

The company stated: “Significantly, these recoveries produced a recovered grade of 3.94 carats per 100 tonnes for the quarter – more than double the resource and forecast grades of 1.92cpht and 1.83cpht respectively.”

The 1.1 million tonne per annum Mothae mine is the company’s second major diamond operation in Africa after the Lulo diamond project in Angola that has been in production since 2015.

Lucapa holds a 70% stake in Mothae mine, alongside a 40% stake in the Lulo alluvial diamond project.

Meanwhile, production from Lulo totalled 5,070 carats, a decline of 1% compared to the same period last year. This dip was a result of gravel processing from lower-grade areas.

Earlier this week, Lucapa Diamond Company announced its plans to offer seven diamonds from its Lulo mine in a competitive bid, which will close on 31 January.

It would become the first firm to sell diamonds in Angola after new policies were introduced by President Joao Lourenco in August 2018.

This sale consists of one pink and six white diamonds with carats ranging from 43 to 114.

“These recoveries produced a recovered grade of 3.94 carats per 100 tonnes for the quarter, more than double the resource and forecast grades.”

The sale is being organised by Sociedade Mineira Do Lulo (SML), which holds the mining licence for Lulo. SML is a partnership between Lucapa, Endiama and Rosas and Petalas.

The company is also continuing to develop its Brooking diamond project in the Kimberley, Western Australia, from which the company has recovered 1,100 diamonds.

The diamond producer also expects to begin drilling in Botswana, its third operation in Africa, this year. It has secured two-year licence extension in the quarter for its Orapa Area F project.