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WINNER: LUCAPA DIAMOND CORPORATION

Within the junior space, Lucapa Diamond Corporation has established itself as a force to be reckoned with.

Not only is it recovering high value diamonds from its alluvial Lulo diamond mine in Angola, but has built its second project, Mothae, in Lesotho.

This article first appeared in Mining Elites in Africa 2019

Lucapa’s Lulo project in Angola has produced 11 +100 carat diamonds to date and is the highest US$ per carat alluvial diamond producer in the world.

Lulo has produced Angola’s two biggest recorded diamonds weighing 404 carats and 227 carats respectively.

Lucapa and its Lulo partners are also conducting a continuous kimberlite drilling programme to identify the source or sources of the exceptional alluvial diamonds.

Should it succeed it will uncover a very rich kimberlite mine.

Its efforts in this regard are worth acknowledging.

In diamond-rich Lesotho, Lucapa has constructed a new 1.1 Mtpa process plant for its 70%-owned Mothae kimberlite project, which commenced commercial diamond production in November 2018.

This is a mine which sat in Lucara’s portfolio for years – and was never moved into execution phase.

The Mothae kimberlite pipe is a high-quality diamond resource located within 5 km of Letšeng, the highest US$ per carat kimberlite diamond mine in the world.

Lucapa has already recovered large diamonds, including 89 carat and 25 carat yellows, from a bulk sampling program at Mothae.

In Botswana, Lucapa is seeking approvals to drill kimberlite targets at the Orapa Area F project within the prolific Orapa diamond field.

Judges’ comments:

Jim Pooley: “One mine put into operation and one mine in construction while also undertaking additional exploration at the operation to expand resources and extend life of mine is noteworthy. The company is well-run and doing the right thing.”

Marcus Courage: “A strong business that is building good pipeline.”

FINALIST: BOTSWANA DIAMONDS

Botswana Diamonds is concentrating on kimberlite projects within the Kaapvaal Craton.

The Kaapvaal Craton contains a substantial number of kimberlites and has a long history of diamond production going back to 1866.

Despite this extensive history there remains the significant potential for both, new discoveries and the re-discovery of previously mined, but now forgotten, diamondiferous kimberlites in addition to assessing old discoveries through the lens of new technology.

Botswana Diamonds has adopted a prospect generator model, whereby it uses its significant level of technical expertise and contacts within the diamond industry to secure prospective early-stage projects, assess the initial potential of these projects using low-cost exploration methods such as geophysics and geochemical sampling and then seeks to farm-out or joint venture the projects, reducing the amount of equity dilution required inthe company.

Depending on the opportunity, the company intends to advance its projects through the drilling and resource estimation stage, if significant value can be added for limited exploration risk and cost.

Because of this strategy, Botswana Diamonds has assembled a portfolio of projects in Botswana, South Africa and is growing this by adding additional sites in Zimbabwe.

Judges’ comments:

Jim Pooley: “Picking up early stage projects and adding value with limited input then going the JV route for equity in the project itself limits the equity dilution in the parent company, while growing the value of each project.  The goal being value growth based on someone else’s investment - smart if you can get it right which they seem to be doing.”

Marcus Courage: “Botswana Diamonds has established a good pipeline including the project expansion in Zimbabwe.”

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