Lucara Diamond names new CEO, invests in digital sales platform

Canada’s Lucara Diamond (TSX:LUC), the company that hit the jackpot in 2015 after finding the world’s second-largest diamond, has taken a page of De Beers’ books by investing in technology to track diamonds as they move through the supply chain.

To that end, the Vancouver-based miner has acquired Clara Diamond Solutions, a digital platform aimed at transforming how rough precious rocks are sold, for 13.1 million shares, or $29 million, it said.

Further staged equity payments totalling 13.4 million shares are payable upon the achievement of performance milestones related to revenues generated through the platform, the company said.

Testing on the acquired technology has demonstrated the potential to unlock greater than 20% of value throughout the diamond pipeline to the benefit of all participants.

Clara’s main asset is a program that applies algorithms to match rough diamond production with polished manufacturing demand on a stone by stone basis. It also uses blockchain, the technology behind digital currency bitcoin, to allow buyers source rough diamonds tailored to specific polished gems demand, resulting in improved margins for both buyers and sellers.

Lucara said the platform also eliminates dependency on a fixed sales cycle, reducing unwanted carrying costs for stakeholders, adding it plans to commercialise it in the coming months using a selection of the output from the company's flagship Karowe diamond mine, in Botswana.

Female leadership

In a separate statement, Lucara announced it had appointed Eira Thomas, a founder and director of the company, as its new chief executive officer, effective from today, Feb. 26.

Additionally, Catherine McLeod Seltzer, also a Lucara co-founder, will be joining the board of directors as current CEO, William Lamb, retires from this position.

Thomas brings more than 25 years’ experience in the mining industry, including 16 years with Aber Diamond Corporation (now Dominion Diamond), where she served in ever increasing roles from initial discovery as a geologist to vice president exploration, and ultimately a director of the board.

She was co-founder of Stornoway Diamond Corp., serving first as CEO and then as executive chairman.

Under Lamb's leadership, Lucara’s Karowe mine gained an industry reputation for producing large, flawless diamonds, fetching market prices high above the average realized for those found at Orapa mine. This mine, the world’s largest diamond mine, is owned by Debswana, a partnership between De Beers and the government of Botswana.

Commercial production Karowe began in 2012. Since then, it has produced an average of 320,000 carats a year from the treatment of 2.5 million tonnes a year of ore from three kimberlite lobes.