GABORONE, May 31 (Reuters) - The Lerala Diamond Mine in central Botswana has been sold via an online auction for $8.1 million, a year after it was placed under provisional liquidation, officials said on Thursday.
Botswana, the world’s largest diamond producer by value, has four privately-owned diamond mines outside of the Debswana joint venture with the government, but only one, Karowe, is currently operational.
The mine, which was held by Australia’s privately-owned Kimberley Diamonds, has five million tonnes of probable reserves at a grade of 31 carats per 100 tonnes and folded due to high operating costs set against weak sales.
“The highest bid was $8.12 million and it was accepted. We now have to wait process the transaction and confirm the final sale when the money has been paid,” said provisional liquidator of the mine, Kopanong Thekiso, without identifying the buyer.
Lerala creditors are owed 300 million pula ($30 million), and include shareholder companies, mining contractors and workers, Thekiso said
The auction included mining and water rights, five Kimberlite pipes ranging from 0.16 hectares to 2.35 hectares in area, a 200 metric tonnes per hour processing plant and a 4.2 megawatt diesel generator, among other assets. ($1 = 9.9602 pulas) (Writing by Tanisha Heiberg; Editing by James Macharia and Mark Potter)