Camissombo – Moquita – Lucapa – Saurimo – Malanje – Luanda: ida e volta

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A caminho do trabalho – garimpo na Lunda Norte

Um projecto de prospecção e exploração de diamantes de aluvião levou-me, de novo, a Angola.

Estreámos uma nova tecnologia (um drone acabado de comprar; como vivemos até agora sem um?), revimos velhos amigos e fizemos novos conhecimentos, falámos com garimpeiros e ouvimos a chamada muçulmana para as orações às 4 da manhã no Lucapa, experimentámos uma (para nós) inédita viagem por estrada Camissombo – Moquita – Lucapa – Saurimo – Malanje – Luanda, atravessámos e viajámos no rio Luachimo.

Viajo (e trabalho) há vinte cinco anos para Angola; nenhuma viagem foi tão intensa. Os filmes e as fotos que irei publicando ao longo das próximas semanas são para mim forma de não esquecer; para quem já lá viveu, pretexto para recordar.

A Sínese é uma empresa especializada em Geologia Económica e Análise e Sistemas Inteligentes. Fundada em 1995, a Sínese realizou estudos técnicos, económicos e de mercado, desenvolveu sistemas de informação especializados, concebeu e implementou projetos de prospecção, avaliação, mineração de recursos minerais em diversos países e continentes – Europa (Portugal), África (Angola, República do Congo, África do Sul, Angola) e nas Américas (Canadá, Estados Unidos, Brasil, Argentina, Uruguai e Equador).
Em particular, a Sínese esteve envolvida em inúmeros projetos ligados à prospecção e mineração de diamantes jazigos aluvionares e quimberlíticos em Angola e no Brasil, de pedra natural em Portugal, no Brasil e em Angola e de ouro e/ou nióbio e tântalo (nomeadamente aluvionares) em Portugal e na República do Congo, manganês e outros metais no Brasil.
A Sínese, coordenada por Luís Chambel – luischambel@sinese.pt , é constituída por uma equipa coesa, flexível e altamente qualificada, com especialistas em diversas disciplinas técnicas e científicas, desde a Engenharia de Minas, Geológica Económica e Aplicada, Sistemas de Informação Geológica, Estatística e Análise de Dados.

Of lions, diamonds and nymphs (Angola trip, last week)

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I have just finished an exploratory trip to a new alluvial project in Lunda Norte. Travelled by dirt road from Saurimo to Lucapa between the Luachimo and Chiumbe rivers and back on the “normal” road (Lucapa – Luó – Saurimo, in between the Luachimo and Chicapa rivers). It’s a land of lions, diamonds and nymphs, it’s the heartland of the Angolan diamond deposits.

Later on, I visited Luanda and had a short (close to) perfect trip just after the Barra do Cuanza. I have just published the photo gallery of last weeks’ travels on my blog; this photo is just the first of my favourites.

Two 50+ ct stones recovered at the Lulo project

Figure 1
57.76 ct type ii diamond recovered from Mining Block 8

Lucapa Diamond Company Ltd. (ASX:LOM) announced the recovery of two 50+ ct diamonds in the Lulo diamond project. The press release highlights:

  • Diamonds weighing 57.76 carats and 50.08 carats among 10 more large special diamonds (>10.8 carats each) recovered from Mining Block 8 at Lulo
  • A total of 24 large special diamonds recovered to date from Mining Block 8
  • Large diamonds being recovered from Mining Block 8 at an exceptional rate, with 22 specials recovered since 10 August 2015
  • Extensive pitting and sampling program underway to expand this prolific alluvial diamond field
  • Significant coarse indicator minerals recovered from Mining Block 8 continue to point to a close kimberlite source.

The press release gives no details on recovered grades, diamond price curves or about the smaller diamonds recovered. You may obtain the full press release here.

Figure 2
Type II diamonds (left): 57.76 ct, 17.97 ct and 12.99 ct. Type I diamonds (right): 50.08 ct, 18.83 ct, 13.83 ct and 11.12 ct. All diamonds from Mining Block 8.


LULO (Lucapa Diamond Company) 1,539 ct parcel sold at 1.500 USD/ct

Lucapa Diamond Company Limited (ASX: LOM) just announced the sale of a fourth parcel of diamonds from the Lulo Diamond Concession in Angola for gross proceeds of A$2.9 million as alluvial mining operations at the project continue to ramp up.

The sale represented an exceptional average price of A$1,870/carat (US$1,500) for the 1,539 carat parcel, demonstrating the exceptional quality and premium value of the alluvial diamonds being currently mined at Lulo.

The latest sale brings to ~A$9.7 million the gross proceeds generated to date from the sale of four parcels of Lulo diamonds totalling 3,856 carats. This represents an average overall sale price of more than A$2,500/carat.

To obtain the news release, just click Fourth-Parcel-of-Lulo-Diamonds-Sells-for-A2.9-Million.

LUCAPA STEPS UP KIMBERLITE DIAMOND PROGRAM AT LULO

Lucapa Diamond Company Limited (ASX: LOM) (“Lucapa” or the “Company”) is preparing to commence the next phase of the the Company’s kimberlite exploration program at the Lulo Diamond Concession in Angola. New program includes extensive further evaluation of four known diamond-bearing Lulo kimberlites as Lucapa steps up its search for the sources of the exceptional alluvial diamonds being mined at Lulo. – March 23, 2015 ASX Announcement.

HIGHLIGHTS

  • More than 80 kimberlite targets to be sampled and/or drilled at Lulo as part of a comprehensive 24-month program which builds on the positive kimberlite exploration results achieved to date.
  • New program to commence in April with extensive further evaluation of four known diamond- bearing pipes at Lulo and laboratory analysis of drill core.
  • First bulk samples also to be excavated from the priority L46 kimberlite, which has been identified as a likely source of the high-grade diamonds recovered from the E46 alluvial area at Lulo.
  • Program includes drilling of 48 priority targets in the western kimberlite province and first testing of 38 targets in the new eastern kimberlite province at Lulo.
  • Kimberlite program will utilise the original 10tph diamond sampling plant at Lulo to enable continuous alluvial diamond mining through main 150tph diamond plant.

You may get the full ASX announcement here: Lucapa-Steps-Up-Kimberlite-Diamond-Program-At-Lulo.

On the right path ? – recent developments in the Angolan diamond industry

The last couple of months witnessed a string of interesting news coming from Angola.

The Lulo project (perhaps currently the hottest diamond exploration property in Angola) gained international attention as a result of a recent presentation in New York and well planed media actions. The project is located in the heartland of Angolan diamonds, in the catchment of the mythic Cuango river. The area was poorly studied in the past (with hundreds of kimberlites known in the region, impossible for DIAMANG to study them all in the early seventies, a question of more tides than sailors – mais marés que marinheiros, I do like Portuguese proverbs). Recent exploration activity by the Australian Lucapa Diamond Company (formerly Lonrho Mining) discovered new kimberlites and found several large diamonds (no, not the usual press release macrodiamonds, but some really big 100+ ct diamonds) in their concession. We are still years away from an eventual mine, though. This is a good opportunity but risk and uncertainty are still high; Lucapa Diamond Company will have to keep working hard (both in the field and obtaining funds).

The reorganisation and reopening of the cutting facility in Luanda has been announced. The initial partnership turned sour (10 MUSD initial investment, with plans for 20 MUSD per month production, 600 jobs creation), with the foreign partner being blamed of poor management by the Angolan Government. The opening of a high volume diamond cutting facility is a risky and demanding endeavour in a country with no previous experience in this activity. According to the Mining and Geology Minister, Mr. Francisco Queiróz, SODIAM, the state-owned diamond trading company, is working to restart this project.

Recent news announced the start of production in the Maua alluvial project in September. The project is located in Mundundo (in the left basin of the Cuango River, 85 km from Marimba, Malange province) and owned by Sociedade Mineira do Maua, with Israeli capital in association with the state-owned ENDIAMA and a group of local private companies, SOCIM, SOMOA and Cuango Internacional.

26 MUSD is the investment in the project, which seems adequate for an alluvial production project in Angola of industrial scale (100 jobs, local and expatriates). The investment value and stated dimension add credibility to the project; this seems not to be the recurring illusion of  some garimpeiros convinced that they will fund production investment with the proceedings of exploration (pagar com o pelo do cão, a Portuguese expression). METCO (misspelled in the original news) is supporting the initial stage of the work. The downside is that the project, already due to begin last year, will be starting in September, the end of the dry season, a fact that may have a major impact in their initial profitability (heavy rains will take a toll on the project’s productivity and income, in a critical stage). I have analysed some projects in the general area in the past and should all go as planned I would expect a deposit with good grades, with smaller, high quality diamonds coming from this new source.

Meanwhile, the Angolan diamond production topped 651 MUSD in this year’s first half. The value is divided between the formal production (468.4 MUSD and 3.759 Mct) and the artisanal (garimpo) activity, representing 466.6 thousand ct and 183.29 M USD. Angola now posts regular news regarding its production levels. This is very important for the international investor, as it signals a new, more transparent approach.

There are also other interesting exploration projects looking for a place under the sun, frequently being led by Angolan companies (SOMIPA, SOMILESTE as examples). This is especially true in alluvial deposits, kimberlites still being the turf of international technically sophisticated, well capitalised companies.

All these seem to be good news, at least good ideas or good intentions. Will they materialize? Is the Angolan diamond industry on the right path? I believe so. New projects have been launched and seem to have reasonable prospects, despite the inevitable delays and incorrigible Angolan optimism. The new Mining Code is a step in the good direction and it has had a positive impact in the industry activity. A National Geology Plan is also underway to further the knowledge about Angolan geology; the results of this plan will not be immediate but will have a major impact in the future. Despite the bumps on the road, all in all, Mr Francisco Queiróz should be given credit for the promising good news, in part the result of the new policies being pursued by his ministry.

Luís Chambel

luischambel@sinese.pt