Africa|Botswana|Components|Construction|Dewatering|Energy|Engineering|Excavators|Installation|Mining|PROJECT|Service|Storage|Surface|Trucks|Underground|Equipment|Shaft Sinking|Operations
Africa|Botswana|Components|Construction|Dewatering|Energy|Engineering|Excavators|Installation|Mining|PROJECT|Service|Storage|Surface|Trucks|Underground|Equipment|Shaft Sinking|Operations

Karowe underground project, Botswana – update

Image of the Karowe diamond mine

Photo by Lucara Diamond Corp

8th December 2023

By: Sheila Barradas

Creamer Media Research Coordinator & Senior Deputy Editor


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Name of the Project
Karowe underground project.


Project Owner/s
Lucara Diamond Corp.

Project Description
The Karowe mine is an existing conventional drill-and-blast openpit operation, with diesel excavators and trucks providing an average of 2.6-million tonnes a year of kimberlite feed for the mill. The openpit mine operation is expected to terminate in mid-2026, ending at an elevation of about 700 m above sea level.

The project is expected to extend the mine life to at least 2040, with underground carat production coming predominately from the highest-value EM/PK(S) unit.

Longhole shrinkage underground bulk mining has been selected to provide early access to higher-value ore and allow for a short payback period.

The underground project is designed to access the South Lobe kimberlite resource below the current planned bottom of the openpit, which is expected to be at about 700 m above sea level, to a depth of 310 m above sea level.
Access to the South Lobe underground will be through two vertical shafts.

A 767-m-deep production shaft, 8.5 m in diameter, driven from surface, will be equipped with two 21 t skips for production hoisting and a service cage for man-and-material movement through the mine. This shaft will also serve as the main fresh-air intake to the mine.

A second shaft, 6 m in diameter, driven 733 m deep from surface, will form the main ventilation exhaust pathway.

All underground mined kimberlite will be processed at the existing Karowe processing plant over a 13- to 15-year period following the cessation of the current openpit operations, which is expected to occur in 2026.

Life-of-mine production (remaining openpit and underground) is estimated at 7.4-million carats.

Potential Job Creation
Not stated.

Net Present Value/Internal Rate of Return
The project has an after-tax net present value, at a 5% discount rate, of $750-million, with a payback of about three years, for the combined openpit and underground mine.

Capital Expenditure
Lucara announced in July 2023 that the cost of the project had increased by 25% to $683-million.

Planned Start/End Date
The project will be completed by the first half of 2028, instead of the previously anticipated date of the second half of 2026.

Latest Development
Lucara has reported that capital costs for the underground expansion are expected to reach $100-million in 2024 and will focus predominantly on shaft-sinking activities and station development.

Surface works will focus on completing the construction of the bulk air cooler and installation of the cage winder. Tendering the underground development contract along with underground equipment purchases are also included in the 2024 project plan.

Sustaining capital and project expenditures are expected to amount to $10-million in 2024, with a focus on the replacement and refurbishment of key asset components, in addition to dewatering activities, and an expansion of the tailings storage facility in accordance with the Global Industry Standard on Tailings Management.

Key Contracts, Suppliers and Consultants
UMS Botswana (presink construction contract); UMS South Africa (shaft-sinking equipment procurement); UMS subsidiary METS International (shaft engineering contract); and JDS Energy & Mining (engineering, procurement and construction management) for the execution of the Karowe underground project.  

Contact Details for Project Information
Lucara Diamond Corp investor and public relations, tel +1 604 674 0272 or email

Edited by Creamer Media Reporter



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