Kimberley Diamonds, the ASX-listed diamond company, has started diamond production at its Lerala diamond mine in Botswana.

The processing of first ore at Lerala signals the culmination of the nine month project to upgrade and re-commission the plant which commenced in August 2015.

Ore on its way from the secondary scrubber to the 400 t surge bin
Ore on its way from the secondary scrubber to the 400 t surge bin

In July 2015 Kimberley Diamonds entered into a lump sum turnkey contract with Consulmet for modifications to the plant at Lerala, to allow the plant to reliably treat and recover diamonds at a nominal rate of 200 tph.

Despite a delay necessitated primarily by the requirement to explore a potential alluvial deposit in the tailings dam footprint, ore processing has now commenced through the plant and will be ramped up to full production levels over the next several weeks.

During this ramp up phase, the plant process is being balanced to optimise recovery efficiency and plant throughput.

Plant personnel recruited and trained over the past few months have been working hand in hand alongside Consulmet specialists to assist in the commissioning of the plant and to progress to 24/7 continuous operations in May.

The first diamond sales are currently expected in June 2016, with commissioning results and diamond recoveries to be communicated in due course.

First ore being sorted in the primary scrubbing trommel screen
First ore being sorted in the primary scrubbing trommel screen

The Lerala mine, situated in north-east Botswana, 34km north of the Martin’s Drift border post with South Africa, comprises a cluster of five diamondiferous kimberlite pipes totalling 6.66 ha in size, together with a 230 tph processing and recovery facility.

Lerala has a 15-year fully permitted mining license covering an area of 21.86 km², producing gem or near-gem quality diamonds.

Lerala will target a production rate of approximately 400 000 cpa, which increases Kimberley Diamonds potential marketable production of gem and near-gem quality diamonds from its 2013 production of 120 000 cpa, to more than 700 000 cpa.