Lucapa Diamond said it has commenced commercial diamond recoveries through the new treatment plant at its 70 percent-owned Mothae kimberlite diamond mine in Lesotho.
The plant would be gradually ramped up to its 1.1Mtpa nameplate capacity following the implementation of a second plant operating shift.
“Lucapa is on track to become one of a few listed diamond companies globally with production from more than one operating mine,” said Lucapa managing director Stephen Wetherall.
“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.”
Lucapa owns a 40 percent stake in the Lulo mine in Angola.
The new Mothae plant incorporates advanced diamond recovery technology, including two XRT diamond recovery modules designed to recover large and rare Type IIa diamonds ahead of the secondary crushing circuit, thus reducing potential diamond breakage and improving the recovery of unbroken large stones.
More than 4,100 carats of diamonds had been recovered from the bulk sampling of areas within the Mothae kimberlite pipe which had not previously been or had been inadequately tested during the previous trial mining phase.
The first parcel of about 2,500 of the Mothae bulk sampling diamonds were exported to Antwerp last September.
Lucapa previously said it was targeting to produce about 44,000 carats of diamonds at Mothae over the first three years of commercial recoveries.
An independent JORC resource estimate for Mothae was 1 million carats of diamonds at a modelled average diamond value of $1 063/carat – the second highest JORC average price per carat in the world.