MASERU – The expansion project at the Mothae Kimberlite Mine has been completed and the mine is set to operate at new expanded capacity from the beginning of the second quarter of 2021. This was revealed by Lucapa Diamond Company Limited and its partner, the government of Lesotho on Monday.
The expansion project was focused on increasing the nameplate capacity by 45 percent from 1.1 million tonnes per annum to 1.6 Mtpa.
In December, Lucapa sold six percent of its company stock to Graff subsidiary Safdico, to secure funds for the expansion.
The mine has an off-take agreement with Safdico under which the manufacturer purchases 100 percent of the rough from Mothae for a period of two and half years.
The increase means Mothae will upsurge output by 45 percent while also raising its ore-processing capacity to 1.6 million tonnes per year from 1.1 million tonnes.
The processing plant was handed back to the production team after completion of the installation of the new scrubber bypass conveyor, the new primary jaw crusher and other associated upgrades.
The project was completed on time, within budget and with no safety incidents recorded. “The completion of the Mothae expansion project on time and within budget, despite the challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic earlier in January, is a credit to the Mothae management, staff and contractor teams.
Lucapa and the government of Lesotho look forward to the increased recoveries and economy of scale benefits this expansion was designed to provide,” Lucapa Managing Director, Stephen Wetherall, said in a statement.
The upgraded processing plant is being re-commissioned and ramped up to its new increased capacity. It is expected that the mine will complete this ramp up by the end of the month and will then operate at the new expanded capacity from the beginning of second quarter this year.
Lucapa is a niche diamond producer with high value mines in Angola and Lesotho. The two mines produce large and high value diamonds with more than 75 percent of revenues generated from the recovery of over 4.8 carat stones. The company owns 70 percent of the high value Mothae Mine in partnership with the government of Lesotho.
The 1.1 Mtpa Mothae Kimberlite Mine commenced commercial mining and processing operations in January 2019. It produced more than 30 000 carats in its first year of production and five more than 100 carat diamond to date, including a 215 carat D-colour Type IIa stone.