London, England — MININGREVIEW.COM — 09 June 2009 – Production has commenced at West African Diamonds plc’s Bomboko Mine in Guinea, and to date a total of 261.6 carats have been produced from 4 200 tonnes of gravel, giving a grade of 6.2 carats per hundred tonnes (cpht).
Revealing this in an announcement here, the company explained that initial production had used a small 10-foot pan plant and a 14-tonne excavator. The full scale plant – a 16-foot pan and a 46- tonne excavator – were on site and were currently being commissioned. According to the announcement, the cost of commissioning would be met from the sale of gold mining equipment in Sierra Leone and from diamond revenue. This would take production from 10 tonnes to 80 tonnes an hour on a three shifts per day basis. Current operating costs of US$7.50 a tonne were targeted to fall to US$5.00 a tonne with full production, it added.
Visual observation indicates that 60% of the stones are gem quality, and that they include three stones weighing 9.71, 7.52 and 5.26 carats.
West African Diamonds said the diamonds would not be sold until there was an adequate parcel to get a representative value, but added that historically gemstones from Bomboko were of good quality and obtained good prices.
During the current wet season, a stockpile of 10 000 tonnes of gravel will be used to feed the pan plant. Once the larger plant is operational the current, smaller plant will be used as a "prospector" unit ahead of the main plant.
Deputy Chairman James Campbell commented: “It is a tribute to our team on the ground in Guinea that our Bomboko Mine came in on stream as scheduled and within cost. We are pleased with the grade and quality of diamonds being discovered.”