Commissioning of new Mothae diamond mine commences in Lesotho, despite the snow

The commissioning phase has commenced at Lucapa Diamond Co’s second high-quality diamond mine, the 1.1 Mt/y Mothae kimberlite project in Lesotho. First commercial diamond recoveries from Mothae should be in early November. Already some 4,100 ct of diamonds have been recovered from pre-production bulk sampling by Lucapa, including Specials of up to 89 ct.

The mine is owned 70% by Lucapa and 30% by the Government of the Kingdom of Lesotho (GoL). First commercial diamond recoveries in early November 2018 will complement production from the high-quality Lulo alluvial diamond mine operated by Lucapa in Angola.

Production from the 1.1 Mt/y Mothae treatment plant, which incorporates two XRT diamond recovery circuits, will be ramped up to its nameplate capacity throughout the December Quarter.

As the picture shows, commissioning has commenced despite the challenges of the winter snowfalls in the Maluti Mountains – an altitude > 3,000 m.

The commencement of production from the new diamond treatment plant will see bulk sampling operations concluded at Mothae, with the staff now transitioning to the commercial diamond plant.

More than 4,100 carats of diamonds have been recovered from the bulk sampling of areas within the Mothae kimberlite pipe which had not previously been tested (and thus not included in the Mothae JORC resource), or had been inadequately tested during the previous trial mining phase2. These included Specials (large diamonds >10.8 ct) of up to 89 ct.

As announced in September 2018, the first parcel of ~2,500 of the Mothae bulk sampling diamonds was exported to Antwerp. Lucapa plans to export the remainder of the bulk sampling diamonds to Antwerp, ahead of the first scheduled sale in Q4.

The recovery of these large diamonds from the bulk sampling program conducted by Lucapa at Mothae is consistent with the recoveries made during trial mining operations conducted between 2008 and 20122.

Approximately 23,400 ct of diamonds were recovered during the trial mining phase, including Specials of up to 254 ct (boart) and 96 individual stones weighing more than 10 ct. Certain of these trial mining diamonds achieved sale prices of up to $57,000/ct.

Mothae is located within 5 km of Gem Diamonds’ Letseng mine, which produces the world’s highest average US$ per carat kimberlite diamond production.