Lucapa Diamond Company Ltd. (ASX : LOM), is a diamond mining company based in Perth, Western Australia, with a portfolio of high-quality production, development and exploration assets in Angola, Lesotho, Botswana and Australia. The company’s flagship project is the Lulo Alluvial Diamond Venture in Angola which has produced some of the largest diamonds on record from that region registering the highest US$ per carat run of mine production of any diamond mine in the world. Lucapa operates its Lulo Alluvial Diamond Venture in association with its partners Empresa Nacional de Diamantes E.P. (“Endiama”) and Rosas & Petalas. Lulo mining company Sociedade Mineira Do Lulo (SML) in which Lucapa has a 49% stake, also takes care of the sale of the diamonds recovered.
The Lulo Diamond Project is a 3,000 km2 concession in Angola’s Lunda Norte diamond heartland. In 2016, SML achieved record production of 19,832 carats of Lulo alluvial diamonds. This included a record 269 special diamonds weighing more than 10.8 carats, which also included Angola’s biggest recorded diamond, the 404 carat rough diamond, named the “4th February Stone,” and four other +100 carat stones weighing 173 carats, 133 carats, 120 carats and 104 carats. Apart from this year 2016 also saw the biggest fancy coloured Lulo diamond recovered to date, a 39 carat pink diamond. In 2016, gross revenues from the sale of Lulo diamonds increased to a record US$51 million, which works out to an exceptional average price per carat of US$2,983, making Lulo the highest US$ per carat run-of-mine production in the world in 2016. The 404 carat “4th February Stone” sold for US$16 million. The sale of the record 404 carat diamond resulted in a distribution being declared to the Lulo partners, with Lucapa receiving a net share of US$5.6 million (A$8.3 million).
Lulo’s ability to produce large valuable diamonds has continued into 2017, with the recovery in February of Angola’s second biggest recorded diamond and the seventh +100 carat stone recovered from Lulo, a spectacular 227 carat Type IIa D-colour diamond. The sale of this diamond has contributed to a great start to 2017, with the sale of the first two parcels of Lulo diamonds for the year generating US$11 million in gross proceeds. Overall sales of Lulo diamonds now exceed A$100 million. In March 2017, the Lulo alluvial operations declared US$8 million in distributions and capital repayments, with Lucapa’s share totaling US$5.6 million (A$7.3 million). The 227 carat diamond was recovered by the Company’s new XRT large-diamond recovery circuit, installed in 2016, capable of recovering large diamonds of up to 1,100 carats in size. The 227 carat diamond was recovered from one of the new alluvial diamond areas, Mining Block 28, identified during the year by the geological team.
In a Press Release dated August 17, 2017, Lucapa Diamond Company Limited and its partners, Endiama and Rosas & Petalas, have announced the recovery of more large diamonds from the Lulo Diamond Project in Angola. These include seven large special diamonds weighing more than 10.8 carats; two Type IIa diamonds weighing 83 carats and 68 carats and five +50 carat diamonds. These seven +50 carat stones will be included in the next parcel of Lulo diamonds to be sold by SML in September 2017.
Mining the alluvials at Lulo continues to generate strong cash flows which has enabled SML to repay loan funding advanced by Lucapa to develop the alluvial exploration and mining operations, as well as pro-rata distributions to the Lulo partners. Accordingly Lucapa has now received US$3.8 million of the US$4 million loan repayment approved by SML, with the remaining amount in the process of being repatriated. However, Lucapa has left its US$1.6 million share of the pro-rata SML distribution in Angola to fund the Lulo kimberlite exploration program, which aims to identify the primary hard-rock sources of the exceptional Lulo alluvial diamonds being recovered, which achieved the highest per carat sale prices in the world in 2016.
This aggressive exploration program involves three rigs drilling kimberlite targets which were upgraded and re-classified from the results of an extensive Time Domain Electromagnetic (“TDEM”) survey flown over the Cacuilo Valley area, where the Lulo alluvial mining operations are focused. This cluster of priority kimberlite targets centres around the large approximately 100 hectare 259 body.