Construction of the AK6 diamond mine in Boteti is set to take off in the next few months with full commissioning targeted for early 2012.
A statement released this week by joint-venture partners, Lucara Diamonds and African Diamonds, announcing a formal decision to proceed with development of the mine says the companies have received approval for construction and have concluded an agreement with the Botswana Power Corporation (BPC) for bulk power supplies.
Senior staff have been recruited for the AK6 project, including the chief executive, the general manager, the finance manager, the human resources manager, and the safety, health, environment and community relations manager.
"We are very pleased that the decision to proceed with the full development and construction of a mine on the AK6 diamond project has been made", says the President of Lucara, William Lamb.
"Even more encouraging is that the critical path activities are already well advanced, helping to ensure that our commissioning schedule is met.
"In less than 1.5 years, we anticipate Lucara to become one of the very limited number of hard rock diamond miners in the world. This, coupled with the increasing demand for high quality diamonds, puts Lucara in a strong position for future growth."
Project development activities started after completion of the feasibility study in June when Dowding Reynard & Associates (DRA) was appointed
TSX Venture Exchange-listed Lucara reported that DRA had placed orders for long-lead equipment, including the autogeneous mill and crushers and that the contract for earthworks for site civil works and access road upgrade had been awarded.
"DRA's focus areas have been the critical path activities which ensure that the ramp-up to full production in the first quarter of 2012 is achieved," the company says.
Commissioning of the mine will start in the final quarter of 2011. Last August, Lucara made a C$82-million offer for African Diamonds, which owns 40 percent of AK6.
The board of the Aim-listed company agreed to the takeover and shareholders will vote on November 26, 2010.Says the Chairman of African Diamonds, John Teeling, in a separate statement: "The demand for quality diamonds remains strong while the supply is at best flat. When AK6 comes on stream, it will be one of a limited number of kimberlite diamond mines in production.
"This proposal is supported by directors and other major shareholders; so we are confident that it will be accepted. The financial and technical strength of Lucara will ensure the rapid development of AK6."