Alrosa has sold its 50% stake in the Sunland Minerals exploration project in Botswana, according to its former joint-venture partner.
Botswana Diamonds bought the Russian miner out for a “nominal sum” and now owns the asset outright, it said in a statement Thursday. Another large diamond producer with “new ideas” that is “keen to find new kimberlites” in the African country is close to acquiring the stake that Alrosa owned, Botswana Diamonds added. If that new partner finalizes the deal, work could begin on identified targets in the first half of 2019.
Alrosa underwent changes to its senior management in 2016 and 2017 that resulted in a shift away from these types of projects, Botswana Diamonds explained.
“For reasons unconnected with this [exploration site], new Alrosa management prioritized marketing over early-stage exploration,” said Botswana Diamonds chairman John Teeling. Alrosa subsequently stopped contributing funds, and will help its former partner find a replacement, according to the statement.
“The project in Botswana was [a] pilot for Alrosa, both in terms of the fact that this is a new country for us, and in terms of the management model,” an Alrosa spokesperson said. “After four years, we evaluated the results and decided to leave the project and concentrate on more familiar and priority activities. We thank Botswana Diamonds for their cooperation and wish the company success in the further implementation of this project.”
Image: A rough diamond.