Lucara Diamond to focus on Bostwana mine this year

The Karowe mine in Botswana has been yielding massive rocks as of late, including the famous “Lesedi la Rona,” the largest diamond discovered in more than a century, and the second-biggest ever found. (Image courtesy of Lucara Diamond.)

Canada’s Lucara Diamond (TSX:LUC), the company that hit the jackpot in 2016 after finding the world’s second-largest diamond, said Tuesday its priority this year will be the completion of a feasibility study into potential underground production and life-of-mine expansion for its Karowe project, in Botswana.

“Having stabilized and significantly improved our mining operations at Karowe in 2018, Lucara is now focused on optimizing the base business and pursuing a suite of high potential, organic growth opportunities,” said chief executive Eira Thomas in the firm’s operating outlook for 2019.

The Canadian miner expects to complete a feasibility study into potential underground production and life-of-mine expansion of Karowe.

The Vancouver-based company has set aside $14.8 million to complete geotechnical and hydrogeological drilling programs this year, as well as economic and studies that started in 2018.

Lucara aims to recover between 300,000 and 330,000 carats from Karowe this year, out of 2.5-million to 2.8-million tonnes of ore processed, at an operating cash cost of between $32/t and $37/t processed.

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.

The miner also announced Tuesday that it plans to pay an annual dividend of C$0.10 per share, based on anticipated production growth and a forecast revenue of between $170 million and $200 million.

Lucara also said it had sold $660,865 worth of its own diamonds on its recently-launched Clara online sales platform, which is driven by blockchain technology. It noted it obtained 8% more for the diamonds traded that way than Lucara’s market price and 15% most than the reserve price placed on the goods.

Clara allows buyers source rough diamonds tailored to specific polished gems demand, resulting in improved margins for both buyers and sellers.

“Though we are delighted with the prices achieved for the rough diamonds sold in this first sale, Clara’s longer-term value will be realized through its’ scalability, increasing the volume of rough diamonds transacted by adding production from other global diamond producers,” Thomas noted.

Shares in Lucara were trading down 2.7% at C1.42 by noon EST.