$105m earmarked for Karowe expansion in 2023

29th November 2022 By: Mariaan Webb - Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor Online

Vancouver-based Lucara Diamond will spend up to $105-million next year on the underground expansion of its Karowe mine, in Botswana.

In its 2023 operating guidance, the company says that its focus will be predominantly on shaft sinking activities, along with the construction of the bulk air cooler, tendering of the underground development contract and underground equipment purchases.

Lucara has also initiated a review of the current programme schedule and budget, which it says will be completed in the first quarter of next year.

In August, Lucara updated the estimated capital cost for the underground expansion from $534-million to $547-million to reflect expected pricing changes following the execution of the main sink contract.

The underground expansion project will extend the Karowe mine’s life by 13 years.

Meanwhile, Lucara has set a sales guidance of 385 000 ct to 415 000 ct and a revenue target of $200-million to $230-million for next year. This compares with the 2022 sales guidance of 300 000 ct to 340 000 ct and the revised revenue guidance of $195-million to $225-million.

The 2023 forecast assumes that 52% of the carats recovered will come from the higher value units in the South Lobe of the Karowe mine, and the balance will be recovered from the Central Lobe. Central Lobe material, while higher grade, has a lower weight percentage of stones greater than 10.8 ct in size, when compared with South Lobe material.

Lucara says it expects to mine between 4.1-million and 5.1-million tonnes.

The assumptions for carats recovered and sold, as well as the number of tonnes processed are consistent with achieved performance in recent years.