Canadian miner Lucara Diamond Corp has secured credit-approved commitments for senior debt facilities of up to $220-million to fund the underground expansion of its Karowe mine that will allow the operation to continue until at least 2040.
The facilities will include project financing of $170-million for the underground project, and working capital of $50-million for the ongoing operation of the Karowe open-pit mine, in Botswana. A syndicate of five mandated lead arrangers include ING Bank, Natixis, Societe Generale London Branch, Africa Finance Corporation and Afreximbank. CEO Eira Thomas says credit commitments for the arrangement of more than $200-million senior debt facilities from five leading international institutions are a strong endorsement of the mining company’s expansion plans.
The Karowe underground expansion has an estimated capital cost of $514-million and a five-year development period. The balance of the development capital is expected to come from operating cash flow generated by open-pit operations at Karowe during the development period. The project has an after-tax net present value, at a 5% discount rate, of $718-million, with a payback of 2.8 years, for the combined open-pit and underground mine. Life-of-mine production (remaining open-pit and underground) is estimated at 7.8-million carats.
The Karowe diamond mine is one of the world’s highest margin diamond mines. In just over eight years of production, it has yielded four of the ten largest diamonds in recorded history, including the 1 758 ct Sewelô, the largest diamond recovered from Botswana, and the 1 109 Lesedi La Rona, which sold for $53-million.