Lucapa Diamond Company has commissioned the 1.1 million tonne a year treatment plant at its Mothae kimberlite diamond mine in Lesotho in Southern Africa, despite the challenges of winter snowfalls.
The mine, in the diamond-rich Maluti Mountains, is surrounded by winter snowfalls that have reached an altitude of more than 3000 metres.
However, Lucapa is going ahead with Mothae’s first commercial diamond recoveries planned for early November.
The treatment plant will operate two XRT diamond recovery circuits towards its ramp up to nameplate capacity in the December quarter.
Lucapa said that Mothae staff were transitioning to the commercial diamond plant, now that bulk sampling operations have concluded at Mothae.
Pre-production bulk sampling by Lucapa included more than 4100 carats of diamonds that have been recovered within the Mothae kimberlite pipe. These were not included in its JORC resource and included large diamonds, known as Specials, that range between 10.8–89 carats.
Exported to Antwerp before, the remainder of the bulk sampling diamonds will also be exported there ahead of Mothae’s first scheduled sale – scheduled for the fourth quarter of 2018.
During Mothae’s trial mining phase, around 23,400 carats of diamonds were recovered, including Specials of up to 254 carats and 96 stones each weighing more than 10 carats.
Some of these diamonds achieved sale prices of up to $US57,000 ($81,000) per carat in January last year.