Lucapa granted new five-year exploration licence for iconic Angola mine

Shares in Australian Lucapa Diamond (ASX:LOM) closed higher Monday after the company announced Angola had approved a new 5-year kimberlite exploration licence for the Lulo project.

Lucapa's Lulo project has bored some massive gems, including the 404.2-carat white rock found early this year, considered the largest diamond ever found in Angola.

The Africa-focused miner said the decision applies to the entire 3,000 square kilometer Lulo site, enabling the firm and its partners in the venture — the country’s national diamond company Endiama, and Rosas & Petalas — to finalize a mineral investment contract. The latter will include a detailed plan of exploration activities for the five-year period, Lucapa said.

The company’s stock closed 2.1% higher at 0.48, which bring the annual gains to more than 71%.

The Lulo diamond project is located 150km from Alrosa's Catoca mine, the world's fourth largest diamond mine. It hosts type-2a diamonds, which account for less than 1% of global supply.

The project has so far bored massive gems, including the 404.2-carat white rock found early this year, which is considered the largest diamond ever recovered in Angola and the biggest ever found by an Australian company.

Angola is the world’s No.4 diamond producer by value and No.6 by volume. Its industry, which began a century ago under Portuguese colonial rule, is successfully emerging from a long period of difficulty as a result of a civil war that ended in 2002.

Earlier this year, the government reduced taxes and cut state ownership requirements to rekindle the industry after the global financial crisis forced mines to close.

The world’s biggest pink diamond found to date was unearthed at Rio Tinto's Argyle mine, weighing 13 carats.