Australian-based Lucapa Diamond Company has secured a US$15-million loan from Singapore’s Equigold to develop Phase 1 of the Mothae kimberlite diamond project in Lesotho, the firm announced on Friday.Lucapa managing director Stephen Wetherall said in a statement that the advanced nature of the Mothae kimberlite project – which has historical expenditure of US$36 million and recovered more than 23,000 carats of diamonds during an extensive trial mining phase – has enabled the company to fast-track its development under a staged, low-risk plan.
The financial support is expected “to give Mothae Mine stability and steady state production during the start-up processes of the mine’s first phase.”
“The US$15 million financing facility enables Lucapa to meet one of its key strategic objectives of growing diamond production in the large and premium-value sector – a segment of the global market where sales and pricing has remained robust,” Wetherall said.
The loan is payable in eight quarterly payments, starting in December 2018.
However, the agreement between Equigold and Lucapa is that the Equigold will convert the last two quarterly payments worth US$3.75 million into ordinary shares in Lucapa.
Lucapa announced in January 2017 the purchase of a 70-percent interest in the high-value Mothae kimberlite pipe in Lesotho. Mothae is located within 5km of Letseng, the world’s highest dollar-per-carat kimberlite diamond mine.
The company also operates the Lulo diamond project in Angola and is conducting kimberlite exploration programme at Orapa Area F in Botswana’s Orapa diamond field.