Botswana approves license renewal for Lucara’s Karowe Mine
Botswana’s Minister of Mineral Resources, Green Technology, and Energy Security has approved the application for renewal of Mining License No 2008/6L for the Canadian-owned Lucara Diamond Corp, and its subsidiary, Lucara Botswana, for the AK06 (Karowe) Mine.
In a statement, Lucara Diamond Crop says that the renewal is effective January 4 for a period of 25 years and marks a critical step in the formal sanction of the Karowe underground expansion project.
"The receipt of our mining licence renewal and extension to 2046 is an important milestone for the Karowe underground expansion project, paving the way for the completion of a supplemental debt financing and full project sanction later this year,” said Eira Thomas, President and CEO.
“Lucara is grateful for the confidence and support demonstrated by the Government of Botswana as we work to expand our operations at Karowe underground, for the benefit of the Government and the people of Botswana together with Lucara's shareholders. We look forward to continued cooperation and a mutually rewarding partnership with the Government of Botswana."
The Karowe underground expansion project, which continued to advance in 2020 under a revised US$22 million budget in response to COVID-19, is focused on detailed engineering and design, and limited earth works and geotechnical studies.
The company continues to explore debt financing options for the underground expansion for those amounts which are expected to exceed the Company's cash flow from operations during the construction period.
In its statement, Lucara anticipates that financing will be in place by the second half of this year. The underground expansion program has an estimated capital cost of $514 million and a five-year period of development, with first ore anticipated from underground in 2026.
The hard rock, open pit mine has a depth of 324 metres has a probable reserve from surface to bottom of 19.84mt containing 2.6 million carats, total mineral reserves (including stockpiles) of 25.40mt containing 2.96 million carats, based on 1.25mm bottom cut off size and 70 percent of the insitu carats at 1.00 BCOS)
A total Indicated resource from surface to a depth of 600 m below surface of 57mt containing 7.9 million carats including stockpiles (effective date of May 25, 2018, based on 1.25mm bottom cut off size and 70% of the insitu carats at 1.00 BCOS). It has an inferred resource from 600 metres to 750 metres below surface of 1.93 mt containing 1.17 million carats.
Vale invests $150mn to extend life of Manitoba operations
Vale has announced a $150mn CAD investment to extend current mining activities in Thompson, Manitoba by 10 years while aggressive exploration drilling of known orebodies holds the promise of mining well past 2040.
Global energy transition is boosting the market for nickel
The Thompson Mine Expansion is a two-phase project. The announcement represents Phase 1 and includes critical infrastructure such as new ventilation raises and fans, increased backfill capacity and additional power distribution. The changes are forecast to improve current production by 30%.
“This is the largest single investment we have made in our Thompson operations in the past two decades,” said Mark Travers, Executive Vice-President for Base Metals with Vale. “It is significant news for our employees, for the Thompson community and for the Province of Manitoba.
“The global movement to electric vehicles, renewable energies and carbon reduction has shone a welcome spotlight on nickel – positioning the metal we mine as a key contributor to a greener future and boosting world demand. We are proud that Thompson can be part of that future and part of the low carbon solution.”
Vale continues drilling program at Manitoba
Coupled with today’s announcement, Vale is continuing an extensive drilling program to further define known orebodies and search for new mineralization.
“This $150mn investment is just one part of our ambitious Thompson turnaround story. It is an indicator of our confidence in a long future for the Thompson operations,” added Dino Otranto, Chief Operating Officer for Vale’s North Atlantic Base Metals operations.
“Active collaboration between our design team, technical services, USW Local 6166, and our entire Thompson workforce has delivered a safe, efficient and fit-for-purpose plan that will enable us to extract the Thompson nickel resources for many years to come.”
The Thompson orebody was first discovered in 1956 by Vale (then known as Inco) following the adoption of new exploration technology and the largest exploration program to-date in the company’s history. Mining of the Thompson orebody began in 1961.
“We see the lighting of a path forward to a sustainable and prosperous future for Vale Base Metals in Manitoba,” said Gary Annett, General Manager of Vale’s Manitoba Operations.