Australia’s Lucapa Diamond (ASX:LOM) has begun commercial production at its 70%-owned Mothae mine in Lesotho, which it acquired in early 2017.
The operation will add to the Perth-based company annual output, until now on depending on just one mine — Lulo, in Angola.
The commercial recoveries are being processed through a 1.1 million tonne-per-year plant, which is a key milestone in Lucapa’s development, according to managing director Stephen Wetherall.
The facility incorporates diamond recovery technology reducing potential fractures and improving the recovery of unbroken large stones, Lucapa said in the statement.
The plant will be progressively ramped up to its 1.1Mtpa nameplate capacity following the implementation of a second plant operating shift, it said.
“The high-quality nature of the production from Lulo and Mothae will also enable the group to further its value-enhancing downstream strategy through partnerships with global diamantaires, where discussions are well advanced,” Wetherall said.
In a second phase of development, the company expects to double production at the Lesotho mine to 2.2 million tonnes a year, expected to happen in 2021.
Motahe mine is located just 5km from Letšeng, the highest dollars-per-carat kimberlite diamond mine in the world. The company’s 40%-owned prolific Lulo mine, in turn, hosts the world’s highest dollar-per-carat alluvial diamonds.