Botswana’s Lerala Diamond Mine auctioned online for $8.1 million

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GABORONE, May 31 (Reuters) – The Lerala Diamond Mine in
central Botswana has been sold via an online auction for $8.1
million, a year after it was placed under provisional
liquidation, officials said on Thursday.

Botswana, the world’s largest diamond producer by value, has
four privately-owned diamond mines outside of the Debswana joint
venture with the government, but only one, Karowe, is currently
operational.

The mine, which was held by Australia’s privately-owned
Kimberley Diamonds, has five million tonnes of probable reserves
at a grade of 31 carats per 100 tonnes and folded due to high
operating costs set against weak sales.

“The highest bid was $8.12 million and it was accepted. We
now have to wait process the transaction and confirm the final
sale when the money has been paid,” said provisional liquidator
of the mine, Kopanong Thekiso, without identifying the buyer.

Lerala creditors are owed 300 million pula ($30 million),
and include shareholder companies, mining contractors and
workers, Thekiso said

The auction included mining and water rights, five
Kimberlite pipes ranging from 0.16 hectares to 2.35 hectares in
area, a 200 metric tonnes per hour processing plant and a 4.2
megawatt diesel generator, among other assets.