Lucara Diamond hopes to dig up more exceptional diamonds in Letlhakane this year, as the Canadian company has advised its investors to expect revenues of up to US$200 million (P2.1 billion) in 2019.
Should the diamond miner hit its target, the revenues would be higher than the 2018 forecast of US$180 million.
Lucara has become globally renowned for the discovery of exceptionally large diamonds at its Karowe Mine in Letlhakane, particularly the famous Lesedi la Lone, the second biggest rough diamond ever discovered, dug up in November 2015.
Eira Thomas, Lucara president and CEO, told investors recently that tonnes of ore mined and processed would be between 2.5 million and 2.8 million, matching 2018’s “record throughput”. Waste mining would be down significantly from 2018 levels and is expected to involve between six and nine million tonnes.
Overall profits are expected to be helped by projected lower cash costs of between US$32 and US$37 per tonne processed, down from US$38 and US$42 in 2018.
“Having stabilised and significantly improved our mining operations at Karowe in 2018, Lucara is now focussed on optimising the base business and pursuing a suite of high potential, organic growth opportunities,” Thomas said.
“Our focus at Karowe in 2019 will be on driving operational efficiencies, increased productivity and cost control, and maximising cash flow.
“The waste stripping bottleneck is now behind us and we expect stripping ratios to steadily improve towards the end of the calendar year.”
The CEO said the diamond miner’s main strategic objective for the year was to finalise studies into underground mining for Karowe.
To this end, an amount of US$14.5 million (P156 million) has been set aside to complete geotechnical and hydrogeological drilling programmes, economic and other studies which started in 2018, she said.
“The completion of a feasibility study examining the potential for underground production and Life of Mine expansion at Karowe from 2026 until at least 2036, remains a top priority for 2019,” Thomas said.
In 2018, Lucara advanced the underground study, spending US$29 million (P306 million) on de-risking the project.