LUANDA, November 15. /TASS/. Russia’s leading diamond miner Alrosa and its partners may begin commercial production at the Luaxe diamond deposit after 2020, Alrosa President Sergey Ivanov said on Tuesday.
"The test drilling is slated for late 2018 - early 2019. However, if to speak about industrial production, it will certainly happen after 2020," he said.
According to the Alrosa president, the development of any major deposit from the project stage to the industrial production stage takes about between four and seven years.
"We may do a little bit faster, because climate and geological conditions are not as difficult as in Yakutia. In Africa, we have a chance to launch [production at] big deposits a little bit faster," he added.
He said that works at the Luaxe deposit are already under way.
‘The fact that as of today we have no final project concept does not mean that the Luaxe project has stalled. Works will be carried out there throughout the entire year," Ivanov said.
He said his company plans to reduce costs of developing the Luaxe deposit by using the existing capacities of Catoca Ltd. Mining Co, a joint venture with Angolan state-run company Endiama where Alrosa owns 32.8%.
In 2013, a kimberlite pipe named Luele was found in the Luaxe concession area as part of exploration operations carried out by Alrosa in cooperation with Angolan experts. Alrosa considers the Luaxe deposit as the most promising in terms of production volumes. The resources of the Luele kimberlite pipe are estimated at 465 mln carats of diamonds (450 million tonnes of diamond-bearing ore).
In line with an agreement signed on May 23, Catoca will take a 50.5% stake in the Luaxe project. Alrosa also intends to propose a direct acquisition of 8% shares in the project to the supervisory board’s consideration, and also plans to raise its share in Catoca.