Paragon Diamonds Confirms 'Exciting Economic Potential' at Lesotho Mine
A new report has revealed that mining of the Lemphane Kimberlite Pipe Project in Lesotho will unearth some very large diamonds.
Paragon Diamonds Ltd, the company behind the project, has revealed details from an Independent Modelling Report which revealed a +100 carat diamond is expected for every million tonnes processed.
The AIM quoted company commissioned The MSA Group, and internationally recognised authority Dr Johannes Ferreira to undertake a size frequency and revenue modelling report to independently verify the Company’s in-house estimates.
Dr Ferreira has previously studied other large diamond size, exceptional value but low grade diamond deposits, including the Mothae kimberlite in Lesotho, Lucara Diamond Corp’s Karowe Mine in Botswana, and DeBeers’ Victor Mine in Canada.
The report was based on 300 carats of diamonds recovered from a bulk sampling programme of over 15,000 tonnes of kimberlite at Lemphane, which was concluded in June 2013.
It stated that diamond values are projected at between US$930/carat and US$1,025/carat which will be verified during Stage 1 production and the size frequency indicated that 12 percent of carats as diamonds exceeding nine carats.
Based on the results of the report, Stage 1 production is expected to recover in excess of 100 diamonds larger than nine carats, including diamonds up to 100 carats in size.
Over the entire 48.6Mt of kimberlite delineated by drilling to date, the expectation would be for some 50 diamonds in excess of 100 carats and 175 diamonds in excess of 50 carats (i.e. two to three a year and one a month respectively if mined at 3Mt/yr), including diamonds of more than 300 carats in size, being recovered.
Dr Ferreira said: “The size component in this exercise is more reliable than the value component, and is very likely to change when more diamonds are recovered and added to the modelling procedure.”
Dr Stephen Grimmer, Paragon’s Managing Director, said: “We are delighted that this independent report confirms the exciting economic potential of our flagship Lemphane project in Lesotho as we move towards Stage 1 production.
“The report highlights that our in-house calculations of preliminary diamond values comfortably exceeding US$750/carat and predicts the recovery of diamonds up to 100 carats in size even in the early stages of production.
“In stage 2, with the anticipated frequent recovery of large stones we would expect that the value would increase further, certainly in the realms of $1,500/carat envisaged in the published scoping study.
“Lemphane has always shown potential to produce large, exceptional diamonds, and we feel the comparison with other high-value Lesotho kimberlites, made in this study, is fair and offers further upside, given recent remarkable diamond values achieved at neighbouring mines.”
British Lithium Pressured Due To Calls for Electric Cars
The British demand for lithium is set to reach 75,000 tonnes by 2035 as the government works towards their ban on the sale of high-polluting diesel and petrol vehicles within the UK. This comes as automakers worldwide continue to insist on the benefits electric vehicles will have on slowing the rate of climate change.
It is estimated that the UK will require 50,000-60,000 MT of lithium carbonate a year by 2035 for battery production to satisfy government needs. This is assuming production remains at 1.2 million vehicles per year, and the amount of lithium required does not increase.
British Lithium, which hopes to begin constructing a quarry to produce 20,000 MT of lithium carbonate a year in a $400 million investment, are not without competitors, both within the UK and abroad.
Competition For Lithium Rises In Europe
After only five years after its initial launch, Cornish Lithium is setting its sights on becoming a UK powerhouse in mining lithium, aiming to begin commercial production in under four years. Jeremy Wrathall, a former investment banker and current managing director of Cornish Lithium, had the future in mind when founding the company.
“In 2016, I started to think about the electric vehicle revolution and what that would mean for metal demand, and I started to think about lithium,” he said in an interview with AFP. “A friend of mine mentioned lithium being identified in Cornwall, and I just wondered if that was a sort of unrecognised thing in the UK.”
Lithium was first discovered in Cornwall around 1864 and has not been mined again since 1914 when it was produced as an ingredient in fireworks. Now, however, Cornish Lithium is reportedly in the testing stage to see if the metal can be produced commercially to meet the growing demand required for the electric car sector.
Despite Cornwall’s close historic ties to mining lithium, Wrathall insists that the project is purely commercial.
Cornish Mining Revival For Lithium Production
“It’s not a mission that drives me to the point of being emotional or romantic,” he says. “It’s vitally important that we do get this technology otherwise Europe has got no lithium supply.”
The European Commission has also stated their goal to end the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2035 to aid the environment. That being said, the majority of lithium extraction currently relies on power provided by environmentally damaging fossil fuels─a slight contradiction.
Alex Keynes, from the Brussels-based lobby group Transport & Environment, is adamant that mining for lithium should be done sustainably.
“Our view is that medium-to-long term, the majority of materials including lithium should come from efficient and clean recycling.
“Europe from a strategic point of view should be looking at securing its own supply of lithium.”
Despite growing competition from abroad, British Lithium Chairman, Roderick Smith, continues to place importance on the mining of lithium within the UK.
“Imagine what the UK economy would look like if we lost our automotive industry,” Smith says. “The stakes are high for the UK.”
Smith expects the UK to compete with other European countries to secure a lithium battery plant in the near future.