Lucara secures P22 billion to expand Karowe Mine
Debswana, Lucara roll out expansion plans
Amid the rippling effects of Covid-19 pandemic which has stalled developments and left many people jobless, Debswana and Lucara mining companies are bringing a light of hope to Boteti region, one of the poorest areas in Botswana despite being endowed with diamonds.
The two mining companies have announced their strategy to ensure that they continue mining in the area which in turn is expected to turn around the fortunes of the area. This week, Lucara Diamond Corporation President and Chief Executive Officer Eira Thomas announced that they have secured project financing debt package of up P22 billion to fund the underground expansion at Karowe Mine. “The Facilities will include two tranches: A project finance facility of US$170 million to fund the development of the underground project, and a working capital facility of US$50 million to support the on-going operation of the Karowe open pit mine,” he said.
The feasibility studies showed that by going underground it will double the mine life from the original mine design of 2010 and add net cash flow of $1.22 billion and gross revenue of $5.25 billion.
Lucara Diamond Corp. which is one of the world’s prolific producers of large, high value type A diamonds has played a significant role in the development of Boteti area through its Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives.
They initiated the Karowe Village Initiative (KVI) which is mainly focused in and developing sustainable community driven project. The first one was Mokubilo Co-operative farm which is situated about 45 km from Letlhakane. The farm is a community-owned, commercial farm designed to address malnutrition, provide affordable and locally available vegetables and protein, and create employment and training opportunities.
The second KVI is a fodder and small stock farm in Khwee, a small settlement outside Letlhakane. The expansion of the Karowe mine which is the only diamond mine in the recorded history to have produced two +1,000 carats diamonds will see mine related companies setting up in Letlhakane.
Community Development Officer Ithuteng Moakofi said that the expansion of Karowe Mine will bring both positive and negative developments into the district. “Already people of Boteti have positive relationship with mining companies because they have been with them for better part of their lives and have accelerated their economic status and educational levels through scholarships,” he said.
Moakofi said that there are deep and abiding positive relationship between the people of Boteti and the diamond companies in those areas. “While Boteti has been neglected when it comes to developments, the mining companies have been doing their best to uplift the lives of the Boteti area,” he said.
He reasoned that the expansion of Karowe Mine as well as the Debswana 2024 strategy will see the creation of new opportunities within Boteti which will bring wealth to the area. “But we should also be mindful that this will also cause considerable disruption which might include relocation of some people thus loss of existing livelihoods,” he said.