By Michelle Graff
The government of Botswana granted Lucara’s application to renew the license for the Karowe Diamond Mine, the open-pit operation pictured here that Lucara is hoping to take underground. (Photo courtesy of Lucara Diamond Corp.)
Gaborone, Botswana—The government of Botswana has given the Karowe mine the green light to continue to operate for the next 25 years, owner Lucara Diamond Corp. announced last week.

The country’s Minister of Mineral Resources, Green Technology and Energy Security has granted renewal of the site’s mining license.

It took effect Jan. 4 and is valid for a period of 25 years, securing Lucara’s right to mine at Karowe until 2046.

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Lucara said the renewal and extension of the site’s mining license is a critical step in taking the mine underground.

Determined in 2019 to be feasible, the Karowe underground expansion project is estimated to cost $514 million and take five years.

If it moves forward, the project is expected to yield its first ore in 2026, the same year by which the mine’s open-pit reserves will be depleted.

The expansion will extend the life of the mine to 2040.

Lucara is still in in need of financing to take Karowe underground but said last week it expects to have that in place by the second half of the year.

“The receipt of our mining license renewal and extension to 2046 is an important milestone for the Karowe underground expansion project, paving the way for the completion of a supplemental debt financing and full project sanction later this year,” President and CEO Eira Thomas said.

“Lucara is grateful for the confidence and support demonstrated by the government of Botswana as we work to expand our operations at Karowe underground.”

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Karowe is known for producing large, high-quality diamonds.

It yielded the 1,109-carat “Lesedi La Rona,” the second largest gem-quality rough diamond ever unearthed, in 2015 and, more recently, a 1,758-carat rough diamond Lucara is having cut, polished and turned into jewelry in partnership with HB Antwerp and Louis Vuitton.

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