The Karowe Mine near Orapa has carved its name into the diamond mining history books after the worldâ€™s second largest gem quality stone was unearthed.
Promoters of the mine, Lucara Diamond yesterday announced that a 1,111-carat gem quality diamond was found at Karowe’s south lobe.
The diamond is the largest discovered since the 3,106-carat Cullinan diamond was found at the Cullinan mine in South Africa in 1905.
A carat equals 0.2 grammes in weight.
The stone, which Lucara says is the largest one to have been recovered in Botswana, measures 65mm x 56mm x 40mm in size.
“This historic diamond recovery puts Lucara and the Karowe mine amongst a select number of truly exceptional diamond producers.
The stone originated in the mine’s south lobe and was recovered by the newly installed Large Diamond Recovery (LDR) XRT machines,” said William Lamb, president and CEO of Lucara Diamond.
No price range has been estimated for the special stone, as nothing remotely similar to it has ever been sold in a modern tender process.
In 2010, Petra Diamonds Ltd. sold a 507-carat diamond to a Hong Kong-based retailer for $35.3 million.
Before that, Gem Diamonds sold a 603-carat stone for $12.4 million in 2006.
Lamb says the diamond should command far more money.
“Not only is it an order of magnitude larger than the other stones, but it also has unique historical cache as the largest gem-quality diamond found in more than 100 years.
“Because it’s got an historical component to it, it becomes similar to a piece of art,” Lamb said.
“People are going to say, ‘Hang on a second, do I want to own a piece of Botswana history?’” Lamb was quoted by Financial Post as saying.
During the week, Lucara said it also recovered two white diamonds weighing 813 and 374 carats from Karowe using the XRT technology.
The company’s CEO said the finds are historic.
“This has been an amazing week for Lucara with the recovery of the second largest and also the sixth-largest gem-quality diamonds ever mined.
“The significance of the recovery of a gem quality stone larger than 1,000 carats, the largest for more than a century and the continued recovery of high quality stones from the south lobe, cannot be overstated,” Lamb added.
The weights of the stones are subject to change as they have not yet been cleaned, Lucara added.
Together with Gem Diamonds’ Ghaghoo Mine, Karowe is the only operating diamond mine outside of the Debswana stable.
The other two non-Debswana mines, BK11 and Lerala are currently mothballed.
Formerly known as AK6, Lucara produces around 400,000 carats per annum and it forecast to have a 15-year lifespan upto 2027.
Karowe stones are sold on the open auction market under Gaborone’s fledgling diamond tender market.
Lucara bought 70 percent of the Karowe mine in 2009 from De Beers for $49 million. It obtained 100 percent ownership of the mine the following year, when it bought African Diamonds PLC for $70.3 million in stock.