London, England — MININGREVIEW.COM — 13 May 2008 – Petra Diamonds Limited – the AIM- and Australian-listed international diamond mining group – has assumed control of its Alto Cuilo and Luangue projects in Angola, and is spending US$22 million (R160 million) on fast-tracking its exploration efforts on both properties.
A company update issued here today reveals that BHP Billiton is to transfer its interests in both ventures to Petra. This will enable the company to take full control of the exploration data gathered to date, and to accelerate test and drilling programmes significantly. BHP Billiton and Petra have now embarked on negotiations to determine the final terms governing BHP Billiton’s handover.
Petra says it is confident that Alto Cuilo has the potential to host one or more diamond deposits that would add substantial value to the company’s portfolio, and that such deposits could be of substantial size and value. An initial work programme budget of US$10 million (R75 million) will be funded from Petra’s internal cash resources over the period to end December 2008.
The update adds that at Luangue, a low-level, high-resolution aeromagnetic survey has identified 138 targets, of which five have been drill-confirmed as Kimberlite. Three narrow-diameter drill rigs are currently en route to Luangue, and an initial drilling programme is planned to commence within two months. An initial 12-month work programme budget of US$12 million (R90 million) will be funded from Petra’s internal cash resources over the period to end April 2009
Petra chairman Adonis Poroulis commented:“Our joint venture with BHP Billiton has been rewarding, but we now have the opportunity to progress exploration at Alto Cuilo and Luangue in a way that is more oriented to Petra’s approach to mining.
“Petra is in a great position to deliver on its strategy, and our enthusiasm and belief in Alto Cuilo and Luangue is as strong as ever. We see the projects – and this region of Angola particularly – as an important new source of diamonds and we intend to use our proven expertise to further unlock the value of our assets for long term shareholder value.”