Lucara Diamond has found an unbroken 341-carat white gem-quality rock at its prolific Karowe mine in Botswana, with analysts estimating it could fetch more than $10 million.
Lucara CEO Eira Thomas said the company is “extremely pleased” to start off 2021 with the recovery of a large, gem-quality stone.
The diamond is the 54th stone over 200 carats recovered at Karowe since it began commercial operations in 2012.
The find builds on previous historic recoveries which include the 342-carat Queen of the Kalahari, the 549-carat Sethunya, the 1,109-carat Lesedi La Rona found in 2015, and the 1758-carat Sewelô, recovered in 2019.
Beyond Sewelô, the only larger diamond ever unearthed is the 3,106-carat Cullinan Diamond, discovered in South Africa in 1905. The Cullinan was later cut into smaller stones, some of which now form part of British royal family’s crown jewels.
“The consistent recovery of these large diamonds is a testament to the continued strong resource and plant performance at Karowe and underpins our rationale for moving forward with the underground expansion program,” she said.
Lucara is looking to secure financing for that program, which is expected to take five years and cost $514 million.
Expanding Karowe from an open-pit to an underground operation is forecast to extend the mine’s life for at least another 13 years.
Currently, resources at the open pit are expected to be depleted by 2026; the underground expansion will take it to 2040.
The Botswana government recently granted the company’s application to renew the mining license for the site, which Thomas called an “important milestone” in moving forward with the underground project.
It took effect earlier this month and is valid for a period of 25 years, securing Lucara’s right to mine at Karowe until 2046.