Australia’s Lucapa Diamonds expects to be elevated to mid-tier diamond producer status in 2024, when its newly acquired Merlin project, in the Northern Territory, starts producing on a commercial basis.
Merlin, which Lucapa expects will be the biggest commercial diamond mine in Australia, will deliver 2.1-million carats over its 14-year mine life, or about 153 000 ct/y, the company said on Friday, announcing the outcomes of a scoping study.
The study contemplates an openpit and vertical pit development, which will require an initial capital estimate of A$96-million to develop. The pretax net present value is A$343-million and the internal rate of return of 59%.
MD Stephen Wetherall said that study confirmed the “great potential” of an innovative hybrid methodology to establish a mining operation at Merlin.
He also noted that there was potential to deliver further significant value through the operational opportunities and from mineral resource extensions, underground development and exploration as the kimberlites continued at depth.
“There are a significant number of anomalies that have the potential to deliver new source discoveries,” said Wetherall.
Lucapa has started a feasibility study to progress what would be its third producing mine. The feasibility study results are expected in mid-2022.
Kimberlite exploration aimed at identifying new discoveries at Merlin will also start in the second quarter of 2022, following the end of the wet season