Lucara Diamond Corp posts higher-than-expected diamond output from Karowe

Lucara Diamond Corp says output from the Karowe mine in Botswana in 2012 was 12 percent higher than forecast at 303,060 carats compared with an outlook of 271,000 carats.

The miner, which has operations in Lesotho as well as Botswana, held five sales of rough diamonds from Karowe in 2012 generated US$54 million in revenues.

A 9.46-carat blue diamond was sold for $4.5 million, or $447,272 per carat.

In addition, other smaller blue diamonds were also discovered, including a 4.77-carat diamond which will be sold later this year.

Lucara President and Chief Executive Officer William Lamb says, "This has been an achievement filled and rewarding year for Lucara, which has successfully transitioned from a mine developer to a mine operator.

"The technical and managerial strength of the team at Karowe has been demonstrated by the rapid ramp up to full production; the diligent work in overcoming commissioning challenges; the achievement of production and sales forecasts; and most importantly doing all this without harm to our staff or the environment. We look forward to taking the company further in 2013."

At its Mothae mine in Lesotho, Lucara said an x-ray recovery tailings audit of diamond recovery tailings was completed in the fourth quarter of last year. The project is now fully transitioned to a small care and maintenance team.

"Project development options will continue to be evaluated through 2013. Initial indications from the Preliminary Economic Assessment work indicate that the project currently does not achieve required internal hurdle rates. This is due to the prevailing economic conditions which have put downward pressure on diamond prices, and is further impacted by significantly higher capital for infrastructure, particularly power, for this remote site," the company statement concludes.