London, England — MININGREVIEW.COM — 06 February 2009 – Emerging JSE and AIM-listed diamond producer DiamondCorp plc has been granted a mining right for its flagship Lace underground diamond development in the Free State.
An update issued here confirmed that the project comprised the Lace kimberlites which have the potential to support a 20-year-plus underground mining operation, as well as tailings from previous mining operations which were treated throughout 2008 while access to the kimberlite pipes was being established.
About 35 million tonnes of kimberlite have been outlined in the main Lace pipe between the 240m and the 855m level, containing an estimated 13.8 million carats of diamonds at an average grade of 42 cpht. Up to a further 7 million tonnes exist above the 240m level, but has not been taken into account in the company’s resource estimates due to the existence of old workings.
Nonetheless this remnant kimberlite will be mined once access to the old workings is achieved. A further 3.5 million tonnes of kimberlite also exists in a satellite pipe 30m to the west of the main pipe.
The company update revealed that a new 4m x 4m decline had been sunk between the Lace pipes and the existing 6m x 2.7m vertical shaft, using the company’s own underground mining fleet. This decline had accessed the satellite pipe late in 2008 and holed through the side wall of the main Lace pit in early January, allowing ventilation equipping to be established.
It added that an initial 20 000-30 000-tonne bulk sample was being extracted from the satellite pipe, while the decline was expected to access potentially high-grade hypabyssal kimberlite in the main pipe during the second half of 2009. The initial mining rate was 1 000 tonnes per day, with plans to increase this to 3 000 tonnes per day by the second half of 2009.
DiamondCorp CEO Paul Loudon said the decision last year to accelerate development of the Lace underground mine had proven to be timely.
“Despite difficult debt and equity markets for junior resource companies, we are pleased to have raised sufficient debt and equity during 2008 to fund this accelerated development programme,” he said.
‘While the reduced demand and lower diamond prices are expected to be sustained throughout 2009, the impact on DiamondCorp is cushioned somewhat by the depreciation of the South African rand against the dollar,” Loudon concluded. “I am confident that we are well positioned to weather these challenging trading conditions.