Botswana Diamonds buys Alrosa’s stake in Sunland Minerals JV

Botswana Diamonds (LON:BOD) has bought Russian diamond miner Alrosa’s 50% stake in their Sunland Minerals joint venture (JV) and the company said it is close to bringing a new partner into the project.

In a statement, the company described the unnamed new investor as “a large diamond producer with new ideas and keen to find new kimberlites in Botswana,” adding that the potential new partner will acquire about 50% of Sunland.

Botswana Diamonds said it anticipated the fresh investor would “step into the exploration shoes of Alrosa,” the world’s top diamond producer by output, with work beginning in the first half of 2019.

Sunland includes six prospecting licences, two in the Orapa kimberlite province and four in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve.

The joint venture, formed in 2014, sought to take advantage of Alrosa’s technological expertise to identify new diamond-bearing kimberlites under the Kalahari sands. Earlier this year, Botswana took over operation of Sunland, which Sunland includes six prospecting licences, as the Russian miner shifted its focus to production and marketing.

“Alrosa has been an excellent partner over the past four years. They brought a fresh approach and new technology to exploration in the Kalahari,” Botswana Diamonds chairman John Teeling, Chairman said in the statement. “We had no instant success, you rarely do in exploration, but progress had been made toward the target of a commercial discovery.”

Botswana, which was overtaken by Russia as the world’s top diamond producing country in 2014, is grappling with aging mines, as well as power and water shortages.

Still, the nation is home to some of the world’s most prolific diamond mines, including Lucara Diamond’s (TSX:LUC) Karowe operation, where the now-famous Lesedi la Rona, the second-largest gem-quality diamond to ever be found, was unearthed in 2016.

Besides diamonds, the country also produces nickel, copper, coal and iron ore.