Canada-based miner Lucara has started sinking the main shaft at its Karowe diamond mine expansion project, in Botswana, although it says that the transition from pre-sinking has taken longer than planned.
The TSX- and LSE-listed miner says that it has identified opportunities to decrease the main sink cycle times, which should limit the impact to the project’s schedule.
The company will complete shaft sinking in 2024 and the ramp-up is scheduled for the first quarter of 2026, with full production from the underground mine expected in the second half of that year.
“Momentum on the underground expansion continues to ramp up as we began the transition towards the main shaft sinking phase; Lucara maintains access to ample liquidity to support its growth plans,” comments CEO Eira Thomas.
During the second quarter, $29.2-million has been invested into the Karowe underground project, focused on the transition to main sink activities and construction of the upgraded transmission line and related substations.
Lucara has updated the estimated capital cost, reporting an increase from $534-million to $547-million to reflect expected pricing changes following the execution of the main sink contract.
The underground expansion is expected to extend Karowe’s mine life by 13 years.
Meanwhile, Lucara reported revenue from the sale of 66 167 ct recovered from Karowe of $50-million, with the sales agreement with HB Trading accounting for 65% of the revenue during the quarter.
The miner reported operating cash costs of $28.78/t processed, which is an increase from $27.51/t reported in the corresponding quarter, reflecting the impact of higher input costs, partially offset by a stronger US dollar.
Adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation of $24.4-million increased by 10% from $22.2-million the same period of 2021, owing to higher revenue. Net income increased to $12.4-million from $6-million in the corresponding quarter last year.