UK-listed Botswana Diamonds said it is feeling "confident" that its Thorny River project in South Africa will become its first operating mine following the conclusion of a mining contract covering bulk sampling activities and future full-scale mining. The necessary regulatory approvals have been applied for, and a drilling program is planned in 2019. Managing Director, James AH Campbell the company hopes to get production rolling during the first half of 2019.
Assuming positive results from its bulk sampling program, which experienced mining contractor Palaeo Minerals will conduct, Botswana Diamonds will be able to self-fund the Thorny River project from bulk through to mine development. The indicated net royalties could be between $2 to $7 million annually over the 3 to 6-year mine life of Thorny River, based on current estimates. In return, Botswana Diamonds – through its partner Vutomi – will receive a 12% net royalty revenue and a further 8% to cover state mineral royalties, sales and security expenses. The remaining 80% of the project will be owned by the operator, Palaeo Minerals.
The contract sets a processing target of up to 30,000 tons of kimberlite per month, and diamonds will be recovered using a processing facility at a nearby diamond mine. Last February, Botswana Diamonds reported modeled diamond grades of 46-74 cpht and value ranges of $120- $220 per carat respectively over the estimated volume of 1.2 to 2.1 million tons of kimberlite to a depth of 100m.
As Chairman John Teeling told The Diamond Loupe in an interview last May, "I want to be a producer," and he says he is confident that his company is heading that way. "We are confident that Thorny River could be the first diamond producing project for Botswana Diamonds. A royalty bulk sampling/mining model means that we have no capital expenditure apart from a limited in-fill drilling programme in early-2019. We anticipate the award of the necessary regulatory approvals in anticipation of revenue being generated during the course of 2019."