Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Support quality journalism
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24weeks
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24weeks
The Globe and Mail
Support quality journalism
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Globe and Mail website displayed on various devices
Just$1.99
per week
for the first 24weeks

var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(select.open)}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](select.open),dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){console.log("scroll");var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1);

A 1,758 carat diamond recovered from from Lucara Diamond Corp.'s Karowe Diamond Mine in Botswana on April 25, 2019.

HANDOUT/Reuters

Lucara Diamond Corp., which has recovered two of the largest diamonds in recent history, is turning to technology to ensure growth in an industry where new mine acquisitions remain elusive.

For the Vancouver-based junior miner, that means using advanced technology like sorting based on atomic density to boost value from its Karowe mine in Botswana, and also diversifying away from mining into an online diamond sales platform.

“Diamond mines are extremely rare ... we haven’t been able find the perfect asset, but we continue to look,” Lucara chief executive officer Eira Thomas said in an interview. “In the meantime, we thought it was important to establish a growth agenda.”

Story continues below advertisement

While bigger companies like Anglo American’s De Beers and Russia’s Alrosa invest in advanced technologies, Lucara is “by far the industry leader” among the remaining smaller miners, said independent analyst Paul Zimnisky.

“Lucara has one depreciating and depleting asset, so they do need to look long term,” Mr. Zimnisky said. “They’re carving out a unique niche for themselves.”

X-Ray transmission (XRT), which Lucara began using in 2015, enabled record diamond recoveries last year, including 33 stones over 100 carats.

It measures ore’s atomic density to identify diamonds early, allowing recoveries of larger stones, while traditional mining requires multiple crushing and concentration stages.

“Previously, we could see the diamonds were broken... but we had no idea what the value loss associated with that was,” Ms. Thomas said. “Did we break a 50-carat diamond or a bunch of 10-carat diamonds? We really couldn’t tell.”

When Lucara began production at Karowe in 2012, it estimated the diamonds would be worth $200 to $250 a carat, Ms. Thomas said. With the XRT technology, they’ve been worth as much as $600 per carat, she said.

Last week, Lucara said it had recovered a 1,758-carat diamond, the biggest in recent history.

Story continues below advertisement

Lucara shares have gained 10 per cent this year, outperforming most sector peers.

The miner has also begun using its online sales platform Clara, doing four scheduled sales to eight manufacturers this year.

Unlike traditional in-person tenders, where manufacturers bid on assortments of similar diamonds from producers, Clara allows manufacturers to place detailed orders.

They are matched to stones in the system, with Lucara earning the difference between the bid and ask prices.

Lucara’s first sale in January generated revenue of $660,865, but the company didn’t provide details of the other sales.

The company aims to sign up at least one producer this year, and will begin continuous sales once the system is fine-tuned, Ms. Thomas said.

Story continues below advertisement

Clara won’t completely replace traditional tenders, which Lucara itself uses to sell diamonds under 1 carat and over 15 carats, Ms. Thomas said. The cost to scan smaller diamonds makes it uneconomical, and larger stones have too many potential outcomes, she said.

Clara “opens up our universe of customers, who, right now, have to fly to Botswana to buy our diamonds,” Ms. Thomas said. “We envisage a world where people buy diamonds from all over the world sitting at their desk.”

Related topics

Report an error
Tickers mentioned in this story
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies