JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) – Africa-focused miner Namakwa Diamonds’ flagship Kao diamond project, in Lesotho, was on track for phase-one commercial production to start in September next year.
In an interim management statement released on Tuesday, CEO Nico Kruger said that the development of the company’s mining division was on track.
Early stage metallurgical test work at the mine had demonstrated positive results, with preproduction to start in January 2011.
At 19,8 ha, the main kimberlite pipe at Kao was the largest in Lesotho and the fourth-largest in Southern Africa.
The Aim-listed company, which was working on the project in partnership with Batla Minerals SA, Lesotho investors and the government of Lesotho, expected phase one to deliver about 1,1-million carats, with ten-million tons of weathered kimberlite being processed to produce about 700 000 ct and 2,5-million tons of hard rock from a quarry being processed to produce a further 400 000 ct.
Phase two of the project was expected to increase production to five-million tons a year over the expected 40-year life-of-mine.
Meanwhile, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where Namakwa was doing development work near the town of Tshikapa, full-scale output was expected to start in the first half of next year.
Namakwa held resource assets on the Kasai river, as well as the rights to 41 alluvial and kimberlite concessions on the Mbelenge, Longatshimo and Lubembe rivers.
Some river diversions had already been put in place, while more would be implemented in August, to increase production capacity and to extend the mine life of the area to between three years and four years.
In South Africa, production capacity at the company’s North West province assets had increased, in part owing to the completion of the ramp-up of a dense-media separation plant to a capacity of between 350 t/h and 400 t/h.