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Lucapa Diamond Company's $3.5 million investment in a state-of-the-art XRT large-diamond recovery system is already paying big dividends at the Lulo Diamond Project in Angola. The mine just yielded a 227-carat, Type IIa, D-color gem that's expected to sell for an amount far more than the cost of the technology upgrade.
The extraordinarily pure diamond is the second-largest ever recovered at Lulo. Exactly one year ago, a 404-carat, thumb-shaped diamond that should have been pulverized by an ore crushing device was salvaged, thanks to a stroke of good luck.
At the time, the older diamond sorting equipment was not calibrated to capture a diamond that large. By some fluke, the odd-shaped rough diamond oriented itself vertically, instead of horizontally, while it crawled across the sorting screen and was able to fall through. Had it not found its way through the screen, it would have been crushed. Lucapa has since sold the 404-carat rough diamond — the largest ever discovered in Angola — for $16 million.
Recognizing the upside potential of being able to capture much larger diamonds, Lucapa installed advanced X-ray transmission technology (XRT) and larger screens (55mm) so diamonds up to 1,100 carats can be identified and cherry picked. The company also noted that the XRT technology is more efficient at recovering low-luminescing, ultra-pure Type IIa diamonds.
The Australia-based mining company has recovered seven diamonds of 100 carats or more from the Lulo mining area, which comprises 1,100 square miles along the length of the 31-mile Cacuilo River. Lucapa and its partners have explored only 20% of the Lulo concession, so far.
“It is fitting that within a week of the anniversary of recovering Angola’s biggest diamond, we have now recovered Angola’s second-biggest diamond on record, our 227-carat Lulo gem," commented Lucapa Managing Director Stephen Wetherall. "Both were recovered during the Angolan wet season.”
Lucapa, which holds a 40% stake in the Lulo mine, has two partners in the project — Empresa Nacional de Diamantes EP and Rosas & Petales.
Photo courtesy of Lucapa Diamond Company.