Halted Botswana diamond mine to be sold at online auction

A diamond mine in Botswana, owned by now extinct Australian miner Kimberley Diamonds, is going up for sale at an online auction to be held in June, as its liquidators failed to secure viable offers.

The Lerala Mine was opened in 2008 and had to be shut twice due to weak sales, until it finally was placed under judicial management in May last year, leaving 130 people out of work and millions in unpaid bills.

The Lerala Mine was opened in 2008 and placed under judicial management in May last year.

Kimberley, which delisted from the ASX in March 2017, had targeted an annual output of about 360,000 carats over seven years, but Lerala yielded only 59,000 carats in the year leading up to its closure.

Some of the assets included in the sale are five kimberlite pipes ranging from 0.16 hectare to 2.35 hectares in area, mining rights, a 200-metric tonnes per hour processing plant, and a 4.2-megawatt diesel power generator, as listed in The Auctioneer.

Online bids for the Lerala Diamond Mine open at 5 PM on May 24 and run through 2 PM on May 30. Interested buyers must submit a refundable deposit of 5 million pula ($509,000).

Botswana is the world's largest diamonds producer and the trade has transformed it into a middle-income nation.

The country is home to prolific diamond mines, including Lucara Diamond’s Karowe operation, where the now famous “Lesedi la Rona,” the largest diamond discovered in more than a century, was dug up in 2016.