Botswana Diamonds now acquires 100 per cent of the equity in Sunland Minerals ("Sunland") as the company has acquired for a nominal sum the 50 per cent previously held by ALROSA as part of the Company's joint venture with ALROSA (the "Sunland JV").
The joint venture with ALROSA sought to take advantage of the Russian miner’s technological expertise to identify new diamond-bearing kimberlites in the Kalahari sands. The company said it is close to bringing a new partner into the project.
In a statement, the company described the unnamed new investor as “a large diamond producer with new ideas and keen to find new kimberlites in Botswana,” adding that the potential new partner will acquire about 50 per cent of Sunland.
Botswana Diamonds said it anticipated the fresh investor would “step into the exploration shoes of Alrosa,” the world’s top diamond producer by output, with work beginning in the first half of 2019.
Sunland includes six prospecting licences, two in the Orapa kimberlite province and four in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve.
John Teeling, Chairman, commented, "ALROSA has been an excellent partner over the past four years. They brought a fresh approach and new technology to exploration in the Kalahari. The work done by Sunland was and is of a high standard. We had no instant success, you rarely do in exploration, but progress had been made toward the target of a commercial discovery. For reasons unconnected with this acreage, new ALROSA management prioritised marketing over early stage exploration. This happened before, in a previous company, with the Karowe discovery. We successfully replaced a partner, which then developed the Karowe mine. I believe energy is more important than scale in driving innovative exploration.
"Although no guarantees can be given at this stage, we are at an advanced stage of discussions with a significant diamond producer who has in place an experienced exploration team. If talks are finalised I would hope that some of the targets on Sunland ground in the Kalahari, identified in 2018, will be drilled in 2019. I look forward to providing our shareholders with further updates regarding the New Partner in due course."