Diamond exploration and mining company Lucara Diamond earlier this month announced that it had received credit approved commitments from a syndicate of five mandated lead arrangers (MLAs) for a senior secured project financing debt package of up to$220-million to fund the underground expansion at Lucara’s 100%-owned Karowe mine, in Botswana.
The facilities will include two tranches: a project finance facility of $170-million to fund the development of the underground project, and a working capital facility of $50-millionto support the ongoing operation of the Karowe openpit mine. Financial close is subject to satisfactory completion of definitive documentation, and satisfaction of certain terms and conditions, including appropriate know-your-customer checks.
The MLAs areING Bank N.V., Natixis, Societe Generale London Branch, the Africa Finance Corporation and Afreximbank.
Lucara Diamond president and CEO Eira Thomas commented: “Securing credit commitments for the arrangement of about $200-million senior debt facilities from five leading international financial institutions, with significant mining and metals track records and experience in Africa, is an important achievement for Lucara and a strong endorsement of our underground expansion plans.”
The Karowe diamond mine remains one of the world’s highest margin diamond mines and, in just over eight years of production, has yielded four of the ten largest diamonds in recorded history, including the 1 758 ct Sewelô, the largest diamond recovered from Botswana, and the 1 109 Lesedi La Rona which sold for $53-million. “This debt package will supplement cash flows from continued operations of the openpit over the next five years, extending Karowe’s mine life out from 2025 until at least 2040.”
Thomas says Lucara looks forward to working with its “supportive group of MLAs” towards financial close as it continues to develop the underground project.
Lucara also announced an extension of its current working capital facility of$50-million withRand Merchant Bank, a division of Firs Rand Bank,London Branch. The current facility is expected to be extinguished when the project financing debt package achieves financial close.
Terrafranca Advisory is acting as Lucara’s financial adviser. Norton Rose Fulbright is acting as legal counsel.