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Australia-based diamond miner Lucapa’s newly appointed chairperson, Stuart Brown, has hailed Angola as the foremost diamond exploration target on the world stage.

In an address to shareholders on Tuesday, he positioned Angola at the forefront of Lucapa’s strategic direction, stating that the country’s diamond-rich provinces remained unexplored for primary source kimberlites.

“There is a well-accepted view from the exploration geologists that Angola has the greatest potential to become a diamond powerhouse with further discoveries of major new deposits,” said Brown, a past De Beers CFO and interim CEO who became Lucapa’s chairperson in April this year.

Lucapa’s presence in Angola, spanning 15 years, has yielded significant success in alluvial diamond production, notably through its flagship Lulo operation. Brown highlighted Lulo’s exceptional performance in commanding top prices for its alluvial diamonds, with sales amounting to about half-a-billion dollars over the past decade and a half.

Brown also commended Angola’s strides in fostering a conducive environment for foreign investment, noting the return of giants like Rio Tinto and De Beers to the African nation.

The recently released Fraser Institute investment attractiveness index underscores these efforts, with Angola recorded an improvement in its 2023 ranking to forty-seventh out of 86 countries surveyed, from fifty-ninth out of 62 countries in 2022.

Brown stressed that Lucapa’s commitment to discovering primary kimberlite sources remained unwavering, with the company boasting one of the world’s most active kimberlite bulk sampling programmes in Angola.

“Kimberlite exploration, like much other minerals exploration, is a long game, but we are now seeing real progress thanks to the capital investment made into a dedicated kimberlite bulk sampling plant.

“To put this into context, a total of 35 kimberlites have been sampled during the entire 15-year exploration. Of those 35 kimberlites; 25 kimberlites have been sampled since commissioning of the bulk sampling plant in the third quarter of 2022.

“We know that when we find the holy grail it will be worth it,” said Brown.

While Angola takes centre stage in Lucapa’s strategic agenda, the company’s focus extends to Australia, where it owns the Merlin project, in Northern Territory and the Brooking project in Western Australia.

In addition, Lucapa has initiated divestment efforts for the Mothae diamond mine, in Lesotho. It has also opted not to renew its lease in Botswana when it expires at the end of the month.

Regarding the divestment process for Mothae, MD and CEO Nick Selby reported that the data room had been opened to several interested parties.

“It is still early days and good progress is being made,” he noted.