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Lucara Diamond locks in $220 million loan for Karowe expansion

Karowe mine. (Image courtesy of Lucara Diamond)

Canada’s Lucara Diamond (TSX: LUC) has signed a loan for $200 million, which will help it fund a five-year, $514 million underground expansion of its Karowe mine in Botswana.

The package, announced in May,  consists of a project finance facility of $170 million for the expansion and a working capital facility of $50 million to bankroll the ongoing operation of the open-pit mine. It is backed by five major banks: ING Bank, Natixis, Société Générale London Branch, Africa Finance Corporation and Afreximbank.

The fully financed expansion will extend Karowe’s diamond mine life to at least 2040

Chief executive Eira Thomas said the now fully financed project would extend Karowe’s mine life to at least 2040. It is also projected to deliver at least $4 billion in additional revenues using conservative diamond price assumptions. 

“We believe this expansion project comes at the right time in the market cycle, with improving supply and demand fundamentals helping to stabilize and support stronger diamond prices in the short and longer term,” Thomas said in a media release.  

Lucara says Karowe remains one of the highest-margin diamond mines in the world, producing an average of 300,000 high-value carats each year

The mine, which began commercial operations in 2012, has already become the only one in recorded history to have yielded two 1,000+ carat diamonds — the 1,758 carat Sewelô in 2019 and the 1,109 carat Lesedi La Rona in 2015, which sold for $53 million.