Fighting the snow and heat To bring you the best mining content in Africa

I had the incredible privilege of visiting Lucapa Diamond Company’s Lesotho-based Mothae operation recently – the newest addition to its production portfolio – and of bringing our readers a fantastic article on a stellar Aussie miner in Africa.

Hosted on site by the mine’s general manager, Gideon Scheepers, and his entire support team, I had the opportunity not only to travel to the peaks of the country’s Maluti mountains, already dusted with snow in the pre-winter months, but also to see first-hand how to successfully and quickly bring a remote new mine into production.

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Under the vision and guidance of the company’s CEO Stephen Wetherall and the entire Mothae team, the mine produced its first commercial diamonds at the start of this year – an incredible feat considering its predecessor Lucara was unable to find a viable solution to bring the mine into operation.

Having seen Mothae first-hand, it is clear to me that Lucapa took the smart approach: opting for a smaller operation which once cash generative would enable an expansion. This is now on the short-term cards.

At the time of my visit, everyone was hard at work, with various projects still underway to perfect what is already a welloiled machine – in the hope of recovering its first +100 carat diamond. My visit must have brought the mine luck; Mothae recovered a 126 carat stone less within a week after I was there. For a mine with less than a year’s operating history, which is still mining through low-margin zones, the early recovery of a large diamond definitely indicates that its potential moving forward is high.

Perhaps another visit in the not too distant future would be a good idea. Thank you to Gideon and Stian van Blerk for all the effort taken to organise my visit; it is thus far the highlight of my year.

On the back of such an invaluable site visit, the past month has been a busy period for the Mining Review Africa team, as we have just returned from our annual DRC Mining Week conference and exhibition.

Celebrating its 15th anniversary in 2019, it was hardly a surprise that the show exceeded all its numbers – with almost 5 000 attendees visiting over the three-day event. This is a sure sign that despite a controversial mining code, the majority remain committed to developing the country’s mining sector.

This view was supported by the survey we conducted as part of our pre-event webinar titled: Investing in the DRC’s mining sector – what you need to know.

Again – the majority of the audience (82% in this case) voted in favour of the country – so it would appear that despite in-country legislative challenges, the DRC’s orebodies are simply put, worth it.

Do you agree? If you didn’t participate in the webinar you can still listen to the recorded version on our website, www.miningreview.com. And please feel free to drop me a line and let me know your own personal thoughts on the central African region. It may make it into our next edition which takes a look at the DRC and central Africa in greater detail.