A joint-venture subsidiary of London-listed Namakwa Diamonds has been granted a mining lease and mining rights for one of the largest kimberlite pipes in Lesotho and Southern Africa, miningweekly.com reported.
The diamond-miner on Tuesday told shareholders that the Government of the Kingdom of Lesotho had transferred the mining lease to the Kao Kimberlite Pipe to Namakwa Batla Diamonds Limited (NBDL), a JV between Namakwa, Batla Minerals SA, Lesotho investors and the government of Lesotho, the report said.
"The Kao diamond project represents a genuinely exciting development for the company, signaling a move into a new southern African geographical region and our first kimberlite project,” Namakwa Diamonds CEO Nico Kruger said in a statement.
The company’s primary focus is alluvial diamond deposits, including marine.
At 19,8 ha, the main kimberlite pipe at Kao was the largest in Lesotho and the fourth largest in Southern Africa, Namakwa said.
It was situated within a 20 km radius of Gem Diamonds’ Let?eng and Liqhobong mines, where some of the world’s largest diamonds have been found.
Kao has a total resource of 173-million tons, containing about 12.4-million carats of diamonds.
Namakwa would develop the Kao pipe from its current internal resources. It expected to process 10 million tons of kimberlite to recover 700, 000 carats over the next five years.
Diamond production would then be ramped up to process five-million tons a year of kimberlite, with an expected life-of-mine exceeding 40 years.
NBDL has agreed to pay up to R50.6-million to some creditors of the previous holder of the lease, in Lesotho, Namakwa said.
Meanwhile, the diamond mining company has also appointed Keith Whitelock as chief technical officer, who will initially be tasked with heading up the Kao project.