JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) – Canadian diamond junior Lucara Diamond’s Karowe mine, in Botswana, is expected to process between 2.4-million and 2.7-million tonnes of ore and produce between 270 000 ct and 290 000 ct of diamonds in 2018.
In an update to shareholders on Thursday, the diamond miner noted that the performance of the mining contractor at Karowe had improved, with mined ore to increase from the estimated 1.4-million to 1.6-million tonnes forecast for the 2017 financial year.
“The company is forecasting to mine robust volumes from the high-value south lobe and continuing waste mining to complete the push back at the Karowe mine to fully access south lobe ore,” CEO William Lamb commented.
It is expected that the mill feed will comprise up to 85% south lobe ore during 2018.
The south lobe grades are lower than the centre and north lobes, resulting in lower diamond recoveries; however, the overall higher diamond quality and value from the south lobe results in higher average sales prices, as well as higher revenues and cash flow.
Lucara expects to generate diamond sales revenue of between $170-million and $200-million in 2018, while Karowe’s operating cash costs are expected to be between $38/t and $42/t.
Operating cash costs, excluding waste mining, is expected to be between $21/t and $24/t.
Meanwhile, the diamond miner plans to spend about $3-million in 2018 on a prefeasibility study for the development of a potential underground mine at Karowe.
Costs associated with geotechnical and hydrogeology drilling and additional studies in support of a feasibility study are forecast at up to $26-million for 2018.
Further, Lucara has set a budget of up to $6-million for 2018 to advance exploration work on the company’s prospecting licences.