South Africa's Thorny River project to start operating later this yearApril 3, 2023
BY: MARLENY ARNOLDI
“After having experienced teething issues, plant delivery delays and adverse weather, Aim-listed Botswana Diamonds (BOD) has finally started producing diamonds from the Marsfontein project, in South Africa.
The company has been focused on bringing two operations – Marsfontein and Thorny River – into production in South Africa.
BOD confirms that plans to start production at Thorny River are well advanced and on track to start in the second half of this year.
The Marsfontein project is currently processing 500 t a day of dumps and gravels. Although diamonds are being produced, BOD does not yet have an accurate representation of the average grade and quality.
BOD explains that Marsfontein is serving as a proof-of-concept trial project, which will help improve operations on the larger Thorny River project.
Drilling on the Thorny River kimberlite dyke system over the past two years has identified two areas of interest for commercial mining. The company expects the grade of the two deposits to be between 46 carats per hundred tonnes (cpht) and 74 cpht of good-quality diamonds.
“We plan to mine these hotspots using the same operational approach as at Marsfontein, for a 15% production royalty agreement,” the company notes, adding that the two projects will deliver cash to BOD with no further capital expenditure.
The company reports that royalties from the Marsfontein and Thorny River projects will mean the company has adequate funding for ongoing activities to the end of the year, after BOD raised £350 000 in January through the exercise of outstanding warrants.
Chairperson John Teeling says recent years have been difficult for junior diamond explorers, with little new cash available.
“But without exploration, there can be no new mines, and most greenfield discoveries are made by juniors. BOD has raised money and prospected for ten years with some limited success to date.
“However, most early-stage investors in the company continue to support new funding efforts, for which BOD is grateful and can hopefully reward them shortly.”
BOD is also in the process of obtaining two full mining permits over the Thorny River licences, which is required before plant and equipment can be mobilised to site.
In Botswana, BOD is undertaking an acquisition of 50% of ten prospecting licences in the central Kalahari, through local partner Future Minerals and 51%-owned subsidiary Siseko.
The company also tried securing a new joint venture partner to acquire the Ghaghoo mine, which owner Gem Diamonds has placed on care and maintenance; however, circumstances throughout last year have complicated these efforts.
The Ghaghoo mine is fully permitted to end-December 2036 and is located close to BOD's KX36 project.
Meanwhile, BOD says diamond prices have remained resilient throughout global political and economic turbulence. The US market, in particular, stands out, with growing diamond jewellery sales, while long-term growth prospects remain positive in Asian markets.
The company points out that supply disruptions globally are supporting higher diamond prices.
It adds that the diamond industry is undergoing a transformation, as lab-grown diamonds find their market niche as an entry-level “value” diamond for those not yet able to afford mined diamonds.
There will, however, remain a solid market for both types of diamonds, BOD states.”
SOURCE: MINING WEEKLY